Experiences of Curtins’ Virtual Work Experience Programme

Shaped partially by Covid and from observing how online interactions can support work experience, as proven by our University Student Summer Online Placement (featured in New Civil Engineer magazine), we have created a full Virtual Work Experience programme for young people aged 14-17.

The virtual work experience programme provides technical introductions to being a structural, civil, geo-environmental and transport planning engineer, as well as an understanding of the business’ central delivery teams through learning, marketing, digital delivery and business development.

Designed to simulate in-office working from any remote location, the placements have been provided with the necessary engineering software available for the development of skills, Curtins email accounts and the ability to flex the duration across 1 to 5 days a week.

For our teams and STEM champions, the flexible placements have brought benefits over in-office programmes. They can be conducted from anywhere – widening the pool of professionals within our technical teams to share their knowledge – and their flexibility in delivery has enabled our team to plan their time to minimise any disruption to live projects, whilst conducting regular check-ins with the students.

Patrick O’Hanlon recently completed his placement with key contacts in our Birmingham office. He shares his experiences with us in the following summary:

“Over the past six weeks, I have been lucky enough to have a structural engineering work placement here at Curtins.

Having just finished the first year of my A levels, the work placement came just at the right time, allowing me to gain invaluable knowledge about the industry. Not only has this experience allowed me to confirm that this is the right career path for me but will also set me ahead of other students in the future.

During my time at Curtins, I took every chance to get involved and I was encouraged to do so by my colleagues; who are not only experts at their jobs but also create a fantastic day-to-day work life. I got involved in everything from calculations and designing of structures to seeing the administrative side of the industry and adhering to the necessary process to safely design a building.

I participated in ongoing projects at all stages which further developed my understanding and knowledge of structural engineering. I was also lucky enough to be able to go and visit some projects and see the different levels of development through the stages of construction.

Overall the work placement has been extremely enjoyable, not only that, but my knowledge of the engineering and understanding of the industry have both grown tremendously.”

Dan Shephard, lead Project Engineer also added:

“From the get-go, Pat has been keen and enthusiastic in his work experience placement. Within a week he was designing elements of structure, and since he has been involved with a large variety of structural design and structural tasks.

Pat has been a great member of the team and greatly assisted others where they have needed help. He’s taken the words of Bill Curtin in his stride, and I’m sure he will be successful in his next steps.”

‘Youngsters can run this company. All they need is a guiding hand, to be encouraged, enthused, and then to be given their heads.’ – Bill Curtin

We are pleased to have seen the successful launch of our virtual work experience programme and hope that it will contribute to the development and skills of many more budding engineers, like Patrick, in the future.