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Working lives

Rubina Raj, 28, is a project engineer on the construction of Oldham Art Gallery with Mowlem Major & Special Projects.

Route to the job I took my civil engineering degree at Coventry University and graduated in 1995. I started working for Mowlam doing various jobs within the company and began working towards chartered status, which I gained last year. This has included working on the Earth Centre in Doncaster for nine months, during which I worked on the preparation of the site, sorting out public rights of way, dealing with the utilities to sort out gas mains cutting across the site and so on. Then I moved to Conway Park railway station in Birkenhead, where I worked directly on site. I was seconded to the Carl Bro design consultancy in Leeds for a year - but still employed by Mowlem. I became chartered last year.

Expectations I am lucky in that the job involves managing the site, working with subcontractors, and is more of a design co-ordination role. If the design is complete, you just go ahead and build it, but my job here is to co-ordinate and look ahead - each decision can affect the overall structure of the building. So although it was not planned that way, this is a good progression for me.

Reality Each day is different, but typically I start at seven in the morning and work through until six or seven in the evening. Because I am in a management role, there is paperwork to deal with once the site has shut down. My previous job was more civils oriented - this job does involve civil engineering, but also building to a larger degree.The work on Oldham Art Gallery is minimal, full of open space, and a lot of the job is about getting the finishes exactly right for the client and communicating what it wants to the subcontractor. For instance, usually when you use concrete or blockwork it is covered up later with plaster or rendering.

This time, we have to follow the specification exactly and get the shuttering and pattens to suit.

Advice Finding a good employer and a good mentor is very important.

My mentor has been really good and helped me while I was qualifying for chartered status by bugging me about my work and keeping me up to scratch. But anyone who wants to become chartered does have to be very self motivated - you have to be determined and work hard.

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