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Working lives

Your career

Two years on

David Sheard is a 25-year-old graduate civil engineer at consultant Mott MacDonald's Eastern Division, working from the company's Sheffield office.

Route to the job:

'I worked as a technical assistant at HR Wallingford for six months before starting a four-year MEng Civil Engineering Course at Nottingham University in 1993.

In my final year I took advantage of the careers service and company presentations to find out about as many organisations as possible. After graduating with a 2:1 in 1997 I spent some time travelling and then in December 1997, I sent my CV to a number of companies, including Mott MacDonald, which was advertising for water and wastewater engineers and graduates.

I was invited for an interview at the Sheffield office in early January, received a written offer soon after and joined the company in early 1998 as a graduate civil engineer.'

Expectations:

'I was told at my interview that I would be expected to work on small schemes, and was aware that these often provide as much satisfaction as the high profile jobs for which Mott MacDonald has an international reputation. A smaller team gives you the chance to be involved in many of the aspects of a particular project.'

Reality:

'During my first week the training department sent me details of the ICE training scheme and asked me to consider which courses would be of value to me. Mott MacDonald runs a large number of courses.

I may not have worked on the Tsing Ma bridge during my first two years at the company, but I have worked on smaller schemes which, for the individuals concerned, are probably of far greater significance than any high profile contract.

I have held a high level of responsibility and often had direct contact with clients.'

Advice:

'Research potential employers, making use of presentations and careers fairs at your university.

With the introduction of tuition fees, I think it's even wiser to gain experience before university, or to secure summer placements and sponsorship.This can help your CV stand out when it comes to graduate recruitment. My experience at HR Wallingford also helped me through my degree course, enabling me to consider some of the practical considerations in design work.'

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