Civil Engineering

There is a great deal of overlap between Consultancies and Contractors. Consultancies generally work at the feasibility and design end of projects whilst Contractors generally focus on turning designs into reality. Consultancies may range across many technology and business sectors using their in house civil engineers to support its many projects. Civil engineering contractors will generally have civil engineering as a core discipline.

Companies such as Arup, Mott McDonald or Atkins had civil engineering at the heart but have now grown into multidisciplinary engineering consultancies. While working for an engineering consultancy will provide exposure to a wide range of sectors, some may prefer the 'in-house' feel of employment with a contractor. Companies like Balfour Beatty, Costain, Laing O'Rourke, Vinci and Sir Robert McAlpine are examples of current graduate engineering contractor recruiters.

Many civil engineering and structural engineering graduates will work towards professional qualifications through The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) or Institution of Structural Engineers (IstructE). Sector exposure could include; building, bridges, tunnelling, highways, coastal, energy, environmental, transport planning, project management, airports and water.

Engineering expertise is also required by charities seeking to cope with natural disasters, involvement in organisations such as Engineers against Poverty and Engineers without Borders would be valuable as a student with fundraising activities and events taking place.

Getting in and getting experience

In addition to technical skills gained through your course employers will be looking for transferable skills such as problem solving, teamwork, leadership, decision making and communication skills. Many large engineering consultancies are multinational, you may be offered an opportunity to work in an overseas office so languages, cultural understanding and willingness to work internationally will be useful. Women engineers make up about 7-8% of the profession and the industry are keen to improve this so watch out for events for women engineers.

Networking through ICE and IStructE can play a vital role in boosting your commercial awareness. Attendance at certain presentations and events may even provide professional accreditation to add to your portfolio leading to your Chartered or Incorporated engineer status. Join related LinkedIn groups to keep up to date on current thinking and make connections.

Although vacation work, internships and graduate schemes may be widely advertised with some firms a speculative application may also be considered. Try using the List of ICE approved employers as a starting point.

Professional bodies for information on accreditation, training and careers information.

Recruitment & information sites