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Insights Why do work experience? And other questions…

31 January 2020

“By the end of my placement I had a much better idea of what Acousticians do. I’m glad I did it, because I love my job!”

                    this is a image of Vicky with a award

I’m Vicky, Associate Acoustic Consultant at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group. Although it might sound like I work in music… My job is to assess the potential effects operational and construction noise might have on people living close to future developments, such as roads, airports and industrial areas. I love my job, because what I do really makes a difference to people’s lives and I get to see the projects that I work on come to life.

I became a STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering & Maths) Ambassador in 2012, and the National STEM Coordinator for Atkins in 2016. Since then I’ve been working to inspire young people to consider STEM careers. Being a STEM Ambassador has helped me see my role as an acoustician through a different lens. It’s made me appreciate how far I’ve come in my career, how much I love what I do and how cool the work I do really is.  

Without further ado! Here are some of the questions I get asked about work experience:

Why do work experience?
I didn’t do my school work experience at Atkins, but I did do an industrial placement year when I was at University. Before I started my placement I didn’t really understand what an acoustician did. By the end of the placement I had a much better understanding – I knew who they worked with and the types of projects that they worked on.

Besides bringing a job you’re interested in alive, all types of work experience can help you develop skills like communication and team working. You’ll get to understand how organizations work. And it will build your confidence when interacting with adults.
When should I do my work experience?
At Atkins and Faithful+Gould, we accept students that are at School or College, from Year 10 to Year 12, for between one and two weeks of work experience.
How can I shine in my work experience interview?
Not all of our offices do interviews for work experience. But I would say… Before you turn up to an interview, make sure that you’re prepared. There are questions that everyone gets asked about, from ‘teamwork’, to ‘deadlines’, and ‘things that you are proud of’. Make sure that you take along an example of when you worked in a team, whether from school, in sports teams, or weekend jobs.

What can I expect during my placement at Atkins or Faithful+Gould?

Most work experience students don’t work on actual projects. We’ll generally give you an imaginary project based on what we’ve worked on before. This allows you to do your own research, come up with ideas, and finish what you’re are doing in a week, with a presentation at the end.

What did you work on during your placement at Atkins?

This was in 2001, so a long time ago…

• I worked on a new calculation methodology for predicting the noise from roads using traffic flows and composition.

• I also tackled a number of ‘Noise Hotspot’ projects. Designing noise barriers to improve noise at properties that are built next to busy A roads and motorways.

What did Atkins help student you learn about yourself?

                    this is an image of Vicky with some children

• I love going out on site. Besides being fun, it allows me to see my project in the real world. Places always look different from maps.

• I  was fairly shy of speaking in public. Working and volunteering at Atkins has given me a great deal of personal confidence.

• I didn’t think I’d enjoy working in an office, but it’s great. On my placement, everyone was enthusiastic about what I was working on and eager to help me.

How do you find time to do STEM volunteering and your job?

                    this is a image of Vicky holding a legacy leader poster

Atkins and Faithful+Gould, and the people that work for them, are passionate about inspiring the next generation – for the future of the industry, for the future of the company or for the development of staff. STEM engagement is something that we take great pride in, and the company gives us two volunteer days each year to do our bit for STEM and other community initiatives.

In addition to my job in the Acoustics team and being a STEM Ambassador myself, I am the National STEM Coordinator for Atkins. One of the brilliant things about working for a company like Atkins, that is if you feel passionate about something, there are plenty of ways to get involved. This additional role is something that I am incredibly proud of and has not only lead to working with some equally passionate people on some fantastic STEM initiatives within Atkins, but has also raised my profile and given me the opportunity to visit places that I wouldn’t have been otherwise, such as Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. 
How can I experience one of your company’s STEM events?
Much of what we do is with our local schools, get in touch to see if we would be able to facilitate an event in your school. In addition, we are involved with large events such as Teentech and the Big Bang Fairs, we have a fantastic film, and school pack, for young people called ‘Engine Ears’, we run ‘Bring Your Child to Work Day’ from lots of our offices, and we work with a number of local STEM Outreach providers around the UK.

How can I apply to do work experience at Atkins or Faithful+Gould?

It’s hard to really appreciate everything that we do and all the projects that we work on. So come and work with us for a week and you’ll have a much better understanding of whether a career at a company like Atkins or Faithful+Gould is for you.

To apply, just fill in the application form, especially your interests and when you are available, and we will be in touch as soon as we can to tell you if you have been successful.

What do you love the most about working for Atkins?

I love being part of a big team that work together to make something AMAZING!

How about doing work experience where everyone will pitch in to help you succeed and grow? Apply here.