They say that there’s no substitute for the real thing and, when it comes to engineering and design that’s certainly the case. Getting involved on site is a vital part of the project process for an Engineer, providing the vital insights into the specific requirements and challenges of a particular location needed to create the best solution.

For a Graduate, this experience is all the more important for expanding knowledge and skills. At TSP Projects, we’re proud to foster fantastic relationships with our clients which allow for collaboration and skills sharing for our Graduates. We spoke with our Graduate Engineer Jean-Michel Najarre to find out more about his recent 8 month placement with VINCI construction UK at the Allerton Waste Recovery facility.

 

Before your placement with VINCI Construction UK, did you have much on-site experience?

I had taken the opportunity to visit sites previously during my time with TSP Projects but it was generally only a day here or there to see the progress of a project. The visits were more from an observational perspective and I wasn’t involved in the day to day decision making.

 What did you get involved with during your 8 months with Vinci?

In the beginning, I was involved with the setting out and quality assurance, undertaking a lot of inspections. Over time, my responsibilities grew and evolved. By the end of my time on site I was planning resource, ordering materials and liaising with subcontractors and foremen.

 How did being on site benefit you personally and professionally?

Personally, it really helped to develop my interpersonal skills. You’re spending all day talking with a whole range of people with differing viewpoints, often having difficult discussions and problem solving. It teaches you how best to communicate across the board in order to resolve situations for the best outcome.

Professionally it has helped broaden my perspective. Previously, I was more solely academically minded but being on site, you can’t help but see things from the practical side.

 What’s something you learned about the project that you’d never have known sitting at a desk?

Definitely the various pressures on site. There’s a constant juggling act involving multiple people and timescales in order to meet the programme. You want to ensure that resources are used wisely. Being on site showed me the potential constraints and clashes that I could never have anticipated without being there in person to understand how everything comes together.

 How do you think this experience will help you in your career going forward?

 On-site experience has definitely made me see projects from a contractor’s perspective and this will translate into my drawings. I have a stronger understanding of what to include to help the project run smoothly.

The experience has also been invaluable in my journey to chartership as it makes me a more rounded Engineer.

 What would you say to Graduates interested in getting more on-site experience?

Go for it, it’s a brilliant experience and will help you in so many ways. Keep asking until there is an opportunity available and learn as much as you can during your time.