"There’s no typical day at Hewson: it’s a fast-paced work environment with new challenges each day, and I’ve worked on over 15 different projects since starting here."
Why did you choose to do a placement?
Doing a placement was never a question in my mind: I knew the experience would be invaluable in terms of improving my employability when I graduate.
This was reinforced when I heard about the Surrey/ICE Scholarship Scheme which is an amazing opportunity to be sponsored by a company throughout your degree – including not only financial aid but also multiple placements (during your summers and your Professional Training year) and hopefully a graduate job. I was matched with Hewson Consulting in Guildford.
What’s your placement role?
I consider myself incredibly lucky to be in my role of Student Engineer. Hewson Consulting Engineers is a relatively small company with a staff of around 30 people which has meant I have a lot of responsibility and work directly with senior staff members and even company directors at times.
What does a typical day involve?
There’s no typical day at Hewson: it’s a fast-paced work environment with new challenges each day, and I’ve worked on over 15 different projects since starting here. I’ve been involved in multiple bridge strengthening works, a jetty apron development, domestic property foundation design, as well as carrying out various CAT II and CAT III level checks. Within each of these projects I’ve been part of a larger team of engineers, and I’ve mainly been carrying out hand calculations according to various design codes or assessing the stability of structures using software such as MIDAS Civil, GEO5 and Tekla.
Although I’m relatively inexperienced, due to my project experience I’m often asked to teach analysis and calculation methods to colleagues. For example my comprehensive understanding of the GEO5 software has led to me explaining to colleagues how to correctly carry out slope stability analysis.
Aside from work, what do you enjoy most about your placement?
I’ve enjoyed engaging with my work colleagues at various social events. Another positive is that, because Hewson is in Guildford, I’ve been able to stay in my student house for the year and still be surrounded by my many friends at Surrey.
Has it been hard adjusting to a 9-5 job?
Working on placement is obviously a significant change from being a student but as a Surrey/ICE scholar I’d already done an 8-week summer placement so knew what to expect. One of the biggest positives is that my weekends are free to be spent however I choose.
How does Surrey support you on placement?
I have regular contact with my placement tutor and can go to her with any problems confident that they’ll be solved in a timely manner. Throughout my placement year I have to write three professional development reports and meet with my tutor three times, which ensures both that the company are happy with my progress and that I’m happy working with them.
What are the main things you’re gaining from your placement?
My confidence to present my ideas and ask questions has already developed in the short time I’ve been working here. Doing a placement is excellent not only for your professional development but also your personal growth and maturity.
Describe your placement experience so far in three words
Challenging. Rewarding. Invaluable.