Building for the future: the benefits of work experience
STEM subjects are critical for kick-starting careers in all kinds of engineering, planning, design and compliance roles. But how can we help young people make the leap from ‘passion to profession’?
Here, we connect with Paul Eggleton, Head of Building Standards at Sweco, to explore the merits of ‘starting out’ with work experience, and exploring real-world roles that could provide a long and rewarding career.
What are the core benefits of work experience – both for mentor and mentee?
It’s win-win, in the sense that the mentee gets their first experience of what real-world work could look like, while the mentor has the opportunity to introduce someone into the work environment. It’s a chance for us as a business unit – and as an organisation – to ‘give something back’ to the up and coming talent pool of STEM students…but also a great opportunity to get fresh perspectives on how we ourselves can develop ways of thinking with help from the next generation of difference makers!
Tell us about your own work experience, experience…
I still remember it like it was yesterday (which is scary) but that just reinforces how much of a positive impact it had on me. My work experience was at the London Borough of Harrow, joining their Highway Engineers Department for a week. Part of the reason I remember it is because it was in February half term and all my friends went on the school ski trip instead – I was gutted at the time but looking back it was one of the best decisions my mum made for me.
The week entailed administrative duties, meeting the technical teams and sitting in meetings…but the most important part of it was getting a feeling what working would be like, doing a full week and experiencing working in an office environment.
Is it right that your son is following in your footsteps by doing work experience…in your team?!
That’s right! Most schools these days encourage work experience, but because of the lockdown a lot of this was cancelled. Many in my son’s year did not get the opportunity to do the usual stint with a business. When he expressed an interest in Building Surveying, and how I got into my role, I suggested he did some work experience here at Sweco to get an idea of what it’s all really like, and whether this might be a career he wants to embark upon.
How was it – ’employing’ you son in the Building Standards team?
He spent a couple of days in the London Office within our Building Control team which gave him a valuable insight into the type of projects and important compliance work this team are involved in. He was shown the varied aspect of the role, from the administrative side of things to site visits and design team meetings. I know he really enjoyed his experience, and I would like to thank the team for sparing their time and giving him this invaluable opportunity.
My favourite parts about work experience in the Building Control team at Sweco were attending meetings and going onto lots of different sites, giving me a totally unique experience and a greater understanding of being a Building Control Surveyor.
I would recommend work experience at Sweco – it is a great opportunity to see exactly what the role entails and how working in a large organisation would be. The team were all extremely welcoming and answered any questions I had…it was a very good environment to be around – thanks to everyone involved!
As a mentor, what do you love about helping to develop young people?
Simple, you have an opportunity to make a difference…it is really rewarding seeing someone develop their potential and achieve their goals.
Within the Building Standards Division we have been able to create a pathway from work experience to apprenticeships and beyond, giving a college leaver the opportunity to not just have a taste of the working environment but also gain a degree and carve out a full career.
Paul’s top 5 tips for kick-starting your ‘work’ journey
- Do work experience if you have the opportunity – and throw yourself into it
- Choose something that you think you will enjoy and interests you
- Research all options – there is usually more than one way to achieve a career
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
- Try and pick a company who can demonstrate how they will support you through your career