"It is invaluable beyond belief"
“I worked for Atkins in the summer. My placement was in the Highways and Transportation Department at the Atkins Edinburgh Office. I study Architectural Technology at Edinburgh Napier and this was Civil Engineering, which I've always shown an interest in.” Melanie Robinson begins as she sits down to tell us about the placement she completed in 2014. She goes on to speak about how she got her work placement, how the placement helped her and how it’s affected her plans for the future.
“I had been trying to apply for placements for a while, but it's a cut-throat world.” Melanie says. “I didn't really get anywhere, and then one Friday I got a phone calling telling me I had first refusal of a placement because my mentor knew I was after one.” While searching for a placement months before, Melanie had heard about the Employer Mentoring Programme at Edinburgh Napier. After getting involved with the programme, Melanie’s mentor helped her find a place with Atkins.
“I hadn't heard of it before my third year.” She says about employer mentoring. “I received an email about it and I thought 'wow, that sounds great!’ I went along to a briefing session, and it sounded really good. What you do is write something about yourself, your hobbies, your aspirations, all that kind of stuff. The team here then work to match you with what you want if it’s possible. After getting matched with a Civil Engineer, I shadowed him for a while. Six months later I got the phone call offering me a placement!”
“The main benefit is work experience” Melanie also tells us. “It is invaluable beyond belief. The amount of times I tried to get work experience and got rejected because I didn't have work experience was unreal, so that was definitely one of the main benefits.”
"Other benefits as well were simple things, like how to communicate.” Melanie also tells us about her placement. “It sounds ridiculous! but how to send e-mails, how to word e-mails in that environment are great to learn.” “Other things, like how to speak to people, how to do timesheets, how to work in an office. All that kind of stuff you just don't get taught at uni. I think real life experience like that will be incredibly beneficial, because it means in the future when I go and get a job, I won't have to spend three days learning how to do things like that.”
Melanie says her placement at Atkins has also helped her decide on the career path she wants to take. “The path I was on originally seemed to go into all sorts of different routes, there was no set path.”, Melanie says. “now I know I definitely want to go and do a Masters, because I know that is invaluable. From speaking to other people in the industry, I know that in 10, 20 years time that's what they regret the most, because that's how you proceed in industry, quicker at least. I know that the work experience I've done will show that I've done Engineering, and that I'm capable of doing the job, and I've got the reference to prove it!”
Finally, Melanie sums her placement up in three words:
"Daunting, but collaborative and worthwhile!"