Tom Chick

Engineering Intern

  • Civil Engineering
  • London, University College (UCL)
  • Internship (1-4 Months)
  • BAM Nuttall

What inspired you to take up engineering?

I’ve been interested in engineer since I was a kid. My dad was a civil and transport engineer and a few family friends were engineers as well, so I suppose I got into it through that. When I went through school I was exposed to it a bit more and became more and more interested.

It is a field that has both a lot of work going on, as well as providing the opportunity to help your community.

“I think internships are very important to get because engineering is about experience, especially with red-brick universities like UCL, where a lot of the course is theory”

Why did you decide to study at UCL?

I wanted to study and work in London, and after trying out various institutions, UCL seemed like the best fit for me. I had interviews at Imperial, but I felt like I didn’t really fit in well there. The ethics and history of UCL very much appealed to me, and it has a very friendly atmosphere.

It’s been good so far; there are large varieties of clubs and there’s always stuff to do. I’m in the UCL Kendo Club (Japanese sword fighting) and there are other engineering specific clubs you can join.

What interests you about the field of Civil Engineering?

The main thing about civil engineering is how varied it is. There are a million different things happening or fields to work in, so there is always something that will appeal to you or a new place to look at - from tunnelling to seismic design to transport research.

What attracted me was the focus on helping people; helping society and benefitting other people’s lives. You might not get as much respect for it as in other countries, but at its core it’s about improving people’s lives. It’s quite important to me.

You have had two summer placements at BAM Nuttall- what was the best thing about working at their redevelopment site?

I think the best thing about working with BAM was the opportunity to actually work on-site and experience being an actual engineer. I really liked the opportunity to control my life a bit more, with no exams or arbitrary pressure; if I screwed up on site, it was my fault, nothing else.

You can see a tangible goal to aim towards. With many exams in engineering, you could spend a month revising but be tripped up on one little thing you missed from one book that the examiner just so happened to focus on.

Engineering Intern

What was the most valuable thing you learned during your time there?

I think it was to take responsibility for your own actions, failures and successes, to interact well with your team and work together to help one another. We worked in tunnels at Tottenham Court Road Station in London, doing shift work. It was a good experience.

I think internships are very important to get because engineering is about experience, especially with red-brick universities like UCL, where a lot of the course is theory.

Practical experience is very much appreciated by employers. Engineering is such a varied field that it’s important to figure out exactly what you’re interested in.

What are your career plans for the future, after graduation?

After graduation I plan to go back to work with BAM in the contracting side of engineering. It allows a good mix of office and site-work, ensuring that it does not get stale. Constantly working shifts on-site is tiring and gives little time for yourself beyond sleeping and working, while working in the office all day every day can get quite boring.

I’ve been offered a place on BAM Nuttall’s graduate program. It was definitely down to the summer internships I have had there.

“I think the best thing about working with BAM was the opportunity to actually work on-site and experience being an actual engineer.”

What is attractive to you about a civil engineering career?

I’m quite interested in going to different countries and different places, which civil engineering allows you to do. Ultimately, I would like to work in management around the London area - as I love the city.

I would like to work in America at some point, but careers in Japan or Korea interest me too.

How do you think your Masters from UCL will help you achieve at BAM Nuttall?

I think my Masters from UCL is a very useful degree to have, and seems to carry a lot of weight in the wider world. I think it is a very good thing to have, which it should be from the amount of work it requires!

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