Case study

Graduate geotechnical engineer — Alice Webster

Alice used the speculative approach of contacting employers through LinkedIn to find her graduate geotechnical engineering role

How did you get your geotechnical job?

My geology degree piqued my interest in geotechnical roles. I did a lot of job searching through LinkedIn - finding people and organisations, and narrowing them down to the areas of the country I wanted to work in.

Once I had an idea of who the employers were I checked their websites for jobs, and in many cases sent my CV and a cover letter by email, even if they weren't advertising anything at the time. It wasn't long before I was getting responses and interview dates, and then got my job at Harrison Group UK.

What's a typical working day like as a geotechnical engineer?

My typical day varies a lot depending on whether I'm in the office or out on site. I might be carrying out desk studies, looking at old reports of a site or writing quotes for clients. On site, I take water samples, carry out gas monitoring, and investigate soil logging, soakaway testing and trial pitting.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I never know what the next week will hold, and I like that. I particularly enjoy the background research about a site - using the British Geological Society resources, historic maps and borehole data.

What are the challenges?

Site work can be unpredictable and you never know what you might find once you start drilling. The hours can also be pretty long when you're on site.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My geology degree taught me how to recognise types of rock and to carry out various logging techniques. I also learned how to use maps effectively.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My employer has been great and has allowed me to focus more on the areas I like, such as research and creating drawings and site plans. I like that the job can be moulded to fit my strengths and interests. In the longer term, I'd like to specialise in working in hard rock geology.

Any advice for others wanting to get into this job?

  • Use LinkedIn. It's more than just somewhere to put your CV, it's a way to access people and information in almost any career you can think of. I took a chance in connecting with strangers and ended up speaking to geotechnical professionals. Say hello and ask a polite question about their career - they nearly always reply.
  • Be sure to tailor your CV to each job you apply for. You could try talking to your careers service as they know what employers are looking for in an application.
  • Don't expect things to happen immediately. It can take several months to find, apply and interview for a job. If you know this in advance, it can help. If it takes time, it's not because you've failed or no one wants you, it's just how the process usually works.

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