My placement year was fruitful, intense and rewarding. Amazing people on my team, with a significant drive to reinvent the built environment, inspired me to always do my best and strive for the excellent quality in everything I do. I was lucky to work with professionals who were always eager to help and show me the best way of completing the tasks. I ascertained that Arup is my dream company, a workplace that I will definitely come back to as a graduate student. Furthermore, I had a profound insight into the industry, which showed me different construction career alternatives.
The atmosphere in the company was something that I had not expected. Initially, I was convinced that I will not be treated the same as my senior colleagues, however I could not have been more wrong. Since the year in industry was a very new experience to me, I encountered on many things that I have not initially understood. I have always felt that I count on my colleagues and ask them for help. Everyone was understanding and I have never felt left to myself.
The guidance was provided always when I needed it. The management and my supervisor made their best to provide me with the relevant support. In order to learn and gain appropriate problem solving skills, I was recommended to approach the task individually. However, in case I felt stuck, I could always ask for the further guidance. That was the best way of learning, which strongly improved my confidence, researching skills, as well as team working.
No day was the same. There were days that I felt I could have been given more work and that my team was a bit reactive, rather than proactive. In this instance, if I asked for more tasks, I was always given them immediately. On the other hand, my workload was pretty balanced. I was never too busy that I could not cope. This allowed me to avoid any stress and pressure associated with too much work, so I could stay focused on learning and improving my skills.
I appreciated that as someone with no previous experience in the industry, it was impossible to get tasks that I would be fully responsible for. However, after a few months of learning and gaining relevant knowledge on particular tasks, I was trusted enough to get the tasks and complete them being no longer guided and checked. That was the effect of my ability to complete them to the required standards, so the project manager was satisfied with the final outcome.
I learnt that the knowledge gained in the university is only a brief introduction to what is required in the construction industry. On the contrary, during my year out I gained numerous skills that I find extremely helpful in my degree studies. For instance, my confidence and industry awareness have grown, which allows me to ask questions whenever I am unsure during the lectures. I learnt that no team work is the same, especially comparing working in the group in the university and in the workplace.
The atmosphere in the office was generally positive and peaceful. There were many socializing activities organized by the team, which allowed many to integrate and make friends. Everyone was kind and supportive, approachable, as well as polite. It was interesting to find out that actually people in the highest positions were the kindest ones, despite of being the busiest. I really enjoyed my working environment and the atmosphere in the office. I made many friend throughout my placement year.
My supervisor was responsible for giving me various tasks and guide throughout my placement year. To make my work more diverse, I was working on a few different tasks for different projects. I had an opportunity to take part in various trainings and extra activities, always being notified about such opportunities beforehand. Due to unexpected circumstance which is COVID pandemic, my placement could not be lead the way it was initially planned. Everyone was urged to work form home. Despite it being un unpredictable event, I could experience how it is like, and whether it works for me.
I was allowed to take part in most of the trainings and courses subject to its relevance to the work I was doing. In addition, I took every opportunity to complete modules from Arup University, learning about, for instance United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or Health and Safety: Working from Home. Generally, I think that you only learn as much as you want to. My proactive approach allowed me to improve in many areas, provided that I searched for such opportunities.
I think of Arup as a dream company to work in. The culture is fantastic and people are very easy to get on with. As opposed to some of its peers, Arup lives its values and encourages every employee to put them into practice in their day-to-day work. Communication from top management is clear and flows very well down through the corporate structure. Compensation is in line with the sector and there is also a profit share scheme which allows for profit distribution amongst the employee base.
All of the placements students, along with graduates, met each other up front at an orientation day, so going into this you are not alone. There are many social activities organized within the team. There was a round table in my office, which happened to be a "lunch gathering spot" for almost all fellow placement students and graduates on a daily basis. In general, a social scene amongst young people in the company felt very good.
My office was in Cardiff, which is quite cheap city to live in. Undoubtedly, it all depends on what kind of activities one chooses to do, but certainly socializing and living in Cardiff is not expensive compared to other areas in the UK. For instance, an average room rent costs £350-450 and the average cost of a pint £4-5. Altogether, considering the the placement was paid, I think it was great value to have it in Cardiff.
Nightlife in Cardiff has always been one of the city's best features and with a whole host of new venues, there are plenty of Cardiff nightclubs to choose from for a stag or hen weekend. It is not expensive compared to other places in the UK. Cardiff Bay Area is a great place to start your night before moving onto the City centre. In general, there are many alternatives to do it "on a budget", which is even more fun!
There were plenty of things to do outside of work, and even more if you choose to get involved with social clubs. Cardiff always has something going on that you can try, and it is quite a big place so if you are looking for something in particular, you will probably find it. Everything is pretty well connected, so going further afield for something is not usually a problem. I think that everyone can find something for oneself.