Maria Hernandez Montoya is a 4th year civil engineering student at Edinburgh Napier. Maria has been involved in Interconnect and Connect activities this year. She tells us about her experience on a Connect workplace visit below.
During 2013, thanks to CONNECT, I had the chance to get involved in different events, but the one I enjoyed the most was the workplace visit we did with Balfour Beatty. This was arranged by Lise Thenault who graduated from Edinburgh Napier in 2011 with an MSc Civil Engineering and now works as a Graduate Engineer with Balfour Beatty.
Balfour Beatty were great hosts and I really enjoyed my morning with them. The site visit was a good opportunity for us to learn more about construction procedures, safety issues and over all how to come up with solutions to unexpected problems. Balfour Beatty were in charge of the restoration of an exciting building at the University of Edinburgh, and were also adding an additional floor to the building, which affected to the foundation of the construction. They also carry out all the necessary works to achieve the needs of their client, which was not always an easy thing. Lise and Tanvir, the Site Engineer, explained to us about all the challenges that they had faced since the start of the works and how the team had come up with ideas to find the right solution to each one.
The most valuable part for me was the opportunity to meet Lise because it showed me that someone who was in my position two years ago managed to achieve a great position in one of the best companies in the UK. She gave us a lot of tips and advice in order to look for jobs and how to act on a construction site at the beginning. All jobs are difficult to begin with, but there are still jobs where people are not use to seeing women, and we have to show that we are also capable of this.
Lise did a placement with Balfour Beatty the summer before she finished her Masters in Civil Engineering at Edinburgh Napier. She said it was a great opportunity for her and it also gave her the chance to see how the company work and what they represent. This gave her the motivation to apply for a position there after she finished her studies. She encouraged us to do our best, to achieve good marks and work on our CVs. She also told us that when we start to look for a job, most companies also ask you to attend an assessment centre which includes several tests of logic and memory. Lise told us that there are useful websites that we can use to practice and improve our skills. This was a great help for me, because I was not aware of this.
It was an exciting opportunity to get onto a construction site and to experience for a few hours what my future job could be. I would highly recommend this experience to any other students. To me it was really encouraging as I felt more motivated to continue with my studies because I would like to see myself in the same circumstances as Lise: working in a great company, developing all the knowledge I got during my years in Napier and learning with the support of a great team.