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Nilushi Perera, Placement Student, Atkins


Placement Student

What attracted you to apply for a placement with Atkins?

Throughout University I worked very hard to achieve my personal best and where possible to exceed expectations. When I was considering undergoing a placement I wanted to work for a company that married those ethics. Atkins are one of the most highly regarded Civil Engineering companies and I was always aware of their reputation. It was not until I started working here that I realised how true that reputation is – I feel like a valued member of my team and even during my placement year, Atkins invested time in developing my skills in a host of different disciplines. My team here in Cardiff always offered me new prospects whilst growing my existing opportunities. I feel very privileged to say that the attraction to Atkins of having the best expertise behind you, whist working on a wide variety of exciting jobs has truly lived up to my expectations.

How many placements with Atkins did you complete?

I completed one placement (apprenticeship) which I undertook over 2 years as a part-time student whilst completing my MEng in Civil Engineering.

How would describe your roles and responsibilities?

My role is quite varied, I initially started by doing fairly basic technical assessments on footways on bridges which then grew in complexity to deck assessments, half-joint assessments and culvert designs. I have also been involved with the contractual side of jobs, project management, price estimations for jobs, site supervision and inspection work. My current role is site supervising a bridge strengthening scheme at Celtic Manor in Newport, South Wales. The scheme involves installing 100 pre-stressed bolts through the bridge deck without hitting any reinforcement which has been an interesting challenge! Throughout all these roles my responsibilities have never changed, they are always to complete work on-time and on-budget to the highest standard, and where this hasn’t been possible, my team has always been there to provide support.

What have been your top 3 highlights?

1. Graduating University with a 1st class honours in MEng Civil Engineering. I also managed to get an award for coming top in my class.

2. Being offered a Graduate job at Atkins when I had completed my studies.

3. My Apprenticeship route to becoming a Graduate at Atkins has helped me to apply and consequently be offered the Graduate Transportation Representative Role for the South West of the U.K. Achieving this additional role to a Graduate will hopefully allow me to inspire and collaborate with the next generation of apprentices and female engineers.

Did you find conducting a placement helped you in your studies?

My team in Cardiff were very supportive during my studies. Whether it was helping out on coursework I didn’t quite understand or evenly distributing work so that I was never too busy around the time of exams or deadlines, they really played a big part in my studies and the grades I went on to achieve. Atkins also offered me a graduate job following my apprenticeship which was so wonderful as not only would I be working for a great company but it meant that I didn’t have the stress of applying for graduate jobs when I was also completing my final year work.

Following your placement, did you find it easier to obtain a graduate role?

Yes, I feel even if Atkins did not offer me a job, I had gained so many skills by working on interesting and different projects that I would have been in a very fortunate and confident position to apply for jobs. I would have had a strong C.V. and plenty to talk about in interviews.

What advice and tips would you give to others for the future?

To always try and be the best version of yourself. If you make your goals and dreams personal to you, you will always achieve them as opposed to being in competition with others. I would also say to never allow stereotypes to make you feel like you can’t achieve a goal; I’m female, I’m dyslexic (ironically a word I always need to spell check!), I didn’t attend a redbrick University and I arrived on the Atkins Graduate scheme through doing an Apprenticeship. Albeit that may seem against the odds – it has never fazed me and I think that is key – boundaries are only real if you make them so.

What are your plans for the future?

My immediate future with Atkins is very exciting – I am putting forward, alongside some of the other Transportation Graduate Reps, some ideas for a new initiative for graduates. I am hoping to really engage with apprentices and female engineers through these initiatives so other people can benefit and enjoy a similar route to the one I have taken. In January I am going on secondment to India for three months which I am really looking forward to! I can’t wait to learn and work from a new office and team, experience a different culture, make new friends and hopefully eat far too much Indian food!

My long-term plans are to be Chartered by the end of 2017/beginning of 2018.

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