Route to job:
With a BSc in civil engineering, I entered the industry in 1984 with the Resident Engineer's site staff on the M1 reconstruction contracts. Since then I have been designing bridges for Ove Arup, WS Atkins and Bechtel on railway and highway projects in the UK, Africa and the Far East. I became a Chartered Member of the ICE through the two part Chilver examination systems in 1991.
When the time came for a career move in 1998, I was looking for an opportunity in engineering design, ideally within a contracting organisation, and Kvaerner Technology was advertising for staff in NCE.
By deciding to join a design company within a construction organisation, I was looking forward to leading a high calibre team in design & build projects; engineering in its most direct and powerful form. I expected technically demanding work, tight deadlines and tough decisions - but with the benefit of direct input from the construction teams.
In return I was looking for a package that matched the effort invested and the successes achieved. Most important, I was looking for a business in which a successful career could be engineered through personal ambition.
In many ways the job has been just what I expected, certainly the hard work and tight deadlines! The workload is plentiful and varied, although design & build is just one part of it. Some of the larger projects have yet to start and so my team, which is a good one, remains small. Input from the construction teams hasn't always made it easy to find the right design solutions but it allows an excellent insight in to the way in which contractors regard and value good design.
The realities of the financial and career rewards are not best judged in the early years of a new job.
Work hard and achieve as much as you can academically. However, be aware that academic qualifications alone are not enough. The learning process is perpetual and the best learning opportunities arise from working with good people on demanding projects.
Demand involvement and pursue responsibility. And if you are looking to build a career, don't be too impressed by the offer of higher salaries for routine work.
When changing employers make sure you change for the right reasons. Take your time and be prepared to stay if the opportunities elsewhere are not significantly better than those you already have. Don't burn your bridges!