October 16, 2015, by Laura Estrop

On the Hunt for an Engineering Summer Placement

By Grace Pownall, second year civil engineering student

On 8 October 2015, 15 employers gathered in the Engineering and Science Learning Centre to recruit Nottingham’s best civil engineering students for their graduate programmes, industrial year placements and summer internships.

A wide range of companies were in attendance; from global giants Arup, AECOM, Jacobs and Mott MacDonald, to leading UK companies such as Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty, Kier, Severn Trent Water, Network Rail and Taylor Woodrow. The Careers and Employability Service was also on hand to show students how they can apply their degrees.

With so many amazing opportunities on offer, it was easy to get overwhelmed. As a second year civil engineering student I was eager to make the most of the day in order to try and gain a placement for summer 2016.

At the fair, I talked to numerous companies about what they had on offer in terms of placements (also known as internships), which last six-12 weeks and about the variety of methods they use to recruit students. Most employers require you to submit a CV and covering letter at the application stage. After this, there are psychometric tests, personality quizzes, assessment centres and interviews. All of this can seem daunting on paper, but speaking to graduates who have gone through the process makes it seem possible and less scary. Many of the graduates at the fair were Nottingham’s own, which is the perfect way to see where a degree in civil engineering can take you. They also love to chat about modules and reminisce about Bill Askew’s jokes!

Careers fairs are a great way to learn about the wide range of roles that are on offer to civil engineering students and graduates. I talked to several graduate engineers about their work on a variety of projects, listening to how they have put their degree to use and progressed towards Chartership (which includes getting CEng after your name, further responsibilities, and a pay rise). It is also a chance to network with recruiters and find out about which companies will fit you best in terms of roles, location, and opportunities. It’s important to talk to both recruiters and graduates to get the whole picture of a company and decide whether that is the one for you.

In addition, the Careers in Civil Engineering Fair acted as a launch for the Civil Engineering Industrial Sponsorship Scheme, which is run through the University exclusively for Nottingham students. We had the chance to chat to the six companies involved (Laing O’Rourke*, Sir Robert McAlpine, Taylor Woodrow, RPS and Pick Everard*) about the sponsorship and what is entails.

*These companies will be at the second Careers in Civil Engineering Fair on the 5 November 2015.*

Overall, the fair was a very informative experience, giving me more of an idea of what kind of companies and roles appeal to me, and what the timescale for most applications looks like. Plus- lots of freebies!


Although you never can have too many pens, my personal favourites are the unique items, such as the AECOM travel mug, CH2M mints and lip balm, and the RPS sports watch!

I would thoroughly recommend students from any year attend the next Careers in Civil Engineering Fair. A whole host of different companies will be visiting, so make sure you’re in the ESLC between 11.30am and 2.30pm on Thursday 5 November. It’s never too early to start looking for your career.

Best of luck!

If you’re an engineering student and would like to know more about our engineering fairs, keep an eye on this page. If you visited the fair and would like some advice with your application to any of the opportunities on offer at the fair, book an appointment with a careers adviser. 

Posted in Student BloggersWork experience