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Matt Irish, Graduate Civil Engineer, Atkins


Graduate Civil Engineer

What is it like to work for Atkins in the Middle East?

Life with Atkins is very fast-paced and demanding in the Middle East but is very rewarding. As a graduate you really get thrown straight into the deep end and have to adapt all the time to meet demanding deadlines, but get to work on some of the biggest and most interesting projects in the world. The first thing I noticed about working for Atkins in the Middle East is the scale of the projects. Your working days are generally very busy and demanding but at the same time very rewarding by allowing you to develop a wealth of experience early on in your career.

Tell us about the graduate development programme.

The programme is designed to help provide you with the experience you need as a graduate in order to progress your career towards chartership. In the Middle East, this programme is still young and is not as established as it is in the UK. This allows the graduates to have a more hands-on approach with the graduate programme by having input into what we feel would benefit us and to allow us to shape the future of the programme. It really helps you to take control of your own career and progression.

Tell us about a typical day at Atkins.

Typical days don’t really seem to be too common with Atkins in the Middle East. You are always working on different projects that are located within different countries around the region. This means that you are always having to learn new ways of coming up with innovative solutions. Not to mention the fact you need to be able to get to grips with different design codes that are used around the Middle East.

What is the most unusual thing you have done since joining?

I think the most unusual thing I have found is how quickly you get thrown into big projects and the amount of responsibility you get early on. You have to be able to apply yourself quickly to new situations all the time. However, there are always people on hand to help out if it all gets a bit too much. It can also be quite unusual how often the design may change within a project and you may end up re-designing the same aspect of a project numerous times to satisfy the ever-changing design criteria.

What tips would you give to graduates relocating to the Middle East?

To remember that there are a lot of people in the same boat as you. It can be quite daunting moving to a new country on your own but there are lots of us around who have been in the same situation and know how it feels. Try to take your time getting to know the place and approach the other graduates that are around. Getting involved with the other graduates is great way to get out and see the place and help you to settle in, as well as give you advice on the issues you may encounter moving to this region. Also, be prepared to work hard. Working in the Middle East is no walk in the park but the experience you gain and the projects you work on will not be rivaled anywhere else in the world.

Tell us about the graduate community across the Middle East.

The graduate community is very diverse across the Middle East with graduates joining from all over the world into the same business. Most of the graduates are pretty close and we are always welcoming of new graduates into the region. There are often events organised that allow all the graduates in the region to meet up and socialise with one another which helps to create a community across the different offices, which is important as you will likely be required to travel around when working on projects.

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