04 February 2020
“I felt like I was a valued member of the team, making a real contribution to projects.”
Hello, I’m Marnie, Graduate Electrical and Mechanical Engineer at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. I was a university student when I did my work experience. It gave me the opportunity to experience the engineering industry first-hand and learn beyond the classroom.
Before my placement I did not understand the scale and complexity of engineering projects. Wow! The placement was inspirational which was unexpected. I saw engineering projects and their benefits to communities come to life, which was exciting. And I returned to university with such a better understanding and appreciation of what I was being taught.
First up, some advice if you’re thinking about work doing experience
DO seek out placements in different locations. I did four summer placements in Epsom, York, Bellshill and Croydon.
DON’T hold back. Get involved, take opportunities and go for it!
What my first day at Atkins was like
I was introduced to my other team members, shown around the office and given some background about the company and the business area I was doing my placement in. Everyone was welcoming and enthusiastic about the projects they were working on.
How I imagined work experience to be…
I expected to be shadowing engineers, learning about their projects. I thought I’d be a ‘just a placement student’ gaining some experience for two months.
What work experience at Atkins was actually like!
I was a valued member of my team, making true contributions to projects. I was surprised by how much responsibility I was given to actually put my skills into the mix.
Some of my work responsibilities on placement
• In Transportation I was responsible for creating an energy simulation model for a light rail project and compiling operation and maintenance manuals for two major re-signalling projects in England and Wales.
• In Energy I produced an optioneering report on digitalization of nuclear equipment for a client which was really interesting!
• On my Power Networks placement I went on site and did ‘snagging’ of a HUGE new installation for a shipping port.
• The sustainability staff got me involved with Atkins’ RACE2 Sustainability Initiative. I wrote case studies about the initiatives different offices had implemented.
How I was supported during my work experience
When I worked on a research project with other placement students, we arranged meetings with senior members of staff to tap into their expertise. It was amazing how keen they were to support us, given how busy their schedules are!
Before every task, my line managers would explain the project’s background, my role in the project and their expectations. This was really useful and made me feel confident about what I had to do. They also made time to share their own personal insights, which was invaluable!
My favourite things about Atkins
• Learning through real site experience – on my first placement I went on site to London Gateway for a power networks project.
• The fantastic work culture at Atkins, which is collaborative and exciting while really emphasizing quality, safety and sustainability.
• I love how I learn every day at Atkins, because it encourages me to be curious and ask questions!
Now I work for Atkins as part of the Graduate Development Programme
There’s a big Graduate community at Atkins and everyone genuinely enjoys supporting each other and hanging out together. The two day graduate induction in Birmingham gave me the chance to meet other Graduates from across the UK. Our welcome event was bowling which was great fun. I also took part in a RedR charity challenge where we did a bake sale every week for our office.
Atkins also has an Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) scheme, which I’m part of. A mentor through the Graduate community is supporting me to pursue my Chartership.
How I get the most out of life at Atkins
• I love having volunteer days. I spend them doing STEM outreach because I’m passionate about inspiring the next generation of engineers.
• Our London office is a train journey away from most of the theatres. So my favourite days consist of work followed by a play. Surreal!
• I make the most of flexible and agile working. When I go back to Scotland to visit friends and family, I can work remotely from the Scottish office.
How Atkins supports my individual aspirations
Atkins sponsored my final year Master’s group project when I returned to university after my placement. I had kept in touch with staff from the Sustainability network and after pitching my Beach Cleaning Robot project, they agreed to sponsor me. The cherry on top was an invitation to join them at the Flood and Coast conference to display my robot at Atkins’ conference stand. This was a fantastic example of the supportive and collaborative nature of Atkins!
Three amazing things Atkins helped me learn about myself
• I enjoy a collaborative workplace and being part of a team.
• How passionate I really am about engineering and the difference it can make.
• I can do amazing things when I go for it!
How about doing a placement where you’ll be supported to the best you can be? Apply here