My experiences on a virtual work placement at Curtins by Olivia Rosengarten

Following the successful launch of Curtins Academy online, we have extended our opportunities for digital learning and development to student and teacher placements. Most recently, we have been ‘joined’ by third-year Civil Engineering student, Olivia Rosengarten, who has enrolled on a bespoke, voluntary virtual programme with us during June and July.

Olivia shares some of her experiences of the unique placement with us:

“After doing a placement last summer in Valencia, I decided that this summer I would really like to experience working in my hometown and after undertaking some work experience with Curtins while I was in secondary school, I was very keen to apply for the Curtins Summer Internship Scheme in London. However, soon after finding out I had been successful in my application, the lockdown occurred, and I was unable to undertake my internship.

After receiving this disappointing news, I decided to contact Curtins and ask them if there was anything I could do while being at home that they could recommend; to boost my CV and give me an experience as similar as possible to what I would have undertaken in the office. Thankfully, Curtins tailored a Voluntary Virtual Placement for me to undertake for six weeks during June and July.

I will always remember the impression I got from my first experience at Curtins and the incredibly familiar feel the office had. Fortunately, this feeling of family has continued through my experience of the last few weeks. I can safely say that this placement has enabled me to gain the experience and the insight that I was hoping to gain from being in the office, with added benefit of being able to work at home and with my own hours. I also loved being able to interact with people from different offices and really tailor my experience to help me gain further knowledge in the field of sustainability; the section of Civil Engineering that I am hoping to go into in the future.

Having the opportunity to speak with people like Stephen Beggs, in the Bristol office, about the role of sustainability in the construction industry, to Kate Clegg, in Liverpool, about the surprising role in the industry that marketing has, I have been filled with inspiration to achieve my career goals, and been given many recommendations of articles to read and videos to watch. I have also undertaken numerous online courses; from AutoCAD 3D skills to learning about Asbestos Awareness and Stress Management.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend that members of the industry look to provide virtual placements, especially to students. In this troubling time, it’s important that members of the construction industry aim to provide as much virtual support to the group of people who, one day, will be leading the industry.

As a woman working her way up in a STEM career, I know that this experience will help me to become a role model for those young women who believe they can’t be what they can’t see.  My advice to any young women who are thinking of getting into the STEM industry, is to realise that you are choosing to follow a route that is uncommon amongst our demographic and one which is destined to be difficult. Our responsibility is to push through this barrier, with a self-confidence that does not become eroded by any resistance we may face, and put us all in an amazing position to succeed and ask other people, young or old, if they can do it, why can’t we?”