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Working lives

New Zealander Mark Sullivan, 26, is a structural design engineer with JSA Consulting Engineers

Route to job After finishing university in Auckland, where I gained a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree, I got a job with Dainty Alderton & Associates, as a graduate civil engineer. I stayed there for two and a half years, working in all areas of civils from surveying and land subdivision to heavy structural steel and concrete design. I was then offered a position as a structural engineer with Brown & Thomson Consulting Engineers, where I became involved in larger reinforced concrete and steel-framed projects requiring more sophisticated methods of analysis including seismic modelling.

I left B&T about five months ago to come to the UK with my girlfriend - we both hold European passports. Before leaving I posted CVs to 74 London based structural engineering firms and received 12 replies. From these, I managed to get one interview. While waiting for the interview I saw a copy of NCE and took down the telephone number of the recruitment firm Hays Montrose. I telephoned the firm that evening and secured four interviews for the following week.

Expectations As engineering in the UK does not require seismic modelling, I expected that designing RC buildings would be more straightforward than in New Zealand. However, the methods of construction employed here, such as the use of flat slabs, have broadened my respect for British engineers.

The reality Most of my time at JSA is spent designing all aspects of RC and steel framed elements for proposed buildings. On occasion, I travel to site to carry out an inspection or to attend project design team meetings.

Advice For young people, the money seems to be better in temporary or contract work. Set up a limited company offshore if you think you can avoid the Inland Revenue, but if you would rather play it safe, go with an agency.

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