It’s October 2015 and I have managed to fit some time in to apply to a few different graduate schemes when I come across Mott MacDonald. If I am honest, I have not heard of the company before; after all I am geographer, and this is an engineering consultancy so surely they’re only looking for engineers?
I am shocked at just how diverse and skilled the company and its people are. The best part is that there is a team in water who specialise in flood risk modelling, exactly the field I want to go into!
Toward the end of the first week, I am pretty tired but content with the fact that I have definitely joined an inspiring company. My team seem busy and hardworking. I am being introduced to a lot of the local acronyms and processes including something called a timesheet. Every project has a code and with that code comes a budget which needs to be attributed to time spent in the week. I can’t help but think university would have been a whole lot more efficient (albeit regimented) with the use of a timesheet!
I have monitored an e-tendering portal, started modelling for a flood risk study in the UK, attended a client meeting in another office to explain the modelling results, got suitably confused by a lot of the technical aspects of modelling and had to ask lots of questions. I have attended a National Flood Forum conference, organised a team meeting, and finally, stepped in at short notice to be site coordinator to arrange 63 site visits in the space of two weeks!
At this point, I’ll admit, the amount of responsibility is challenging; both exciting that I am being trusted, but also quite overwhelming! I am just a graduate and the first three months have been such a steep learning curve in terms of trying to get to grips with new skills in hydraulic modelling, all the while knowing I need to produce the required outputs to the high standards which Mott MacDonald operates at.
Therefore it was a comfort when I logged in to my first Mott MacDonald academy module today called ‘The first 100 days’ to listen to other graduates experiencing the same kinds of challenges and feelings. It was reassuring and exactly what I needed. There are plenty of people to support you as the only thing that Mott MacDonald wants is for you to live up to your own and the company’s potential.
This has been one of my proudest days. This week, I was drafted in to an existing project and had been given a hydraulic model in software that I barely knew and suddenly was being asked to create scenarios for the model, run it, and produce the required outputs by the end of the week. After following instructions, the model produced incorrect results. Without having access to any background information or a model log (normally a standard output from model studies), I conceptualised and troubleshooted the model on my own to produce the required outputs. The fact that I have managed to do that for a complex model which I had been suddenly drafted into is such a big thing for me as I have spent so long constantly asking technical questions to my colleagues! This feels like a turning point and will help me to have more confidence in myself.
I haven’t been here quite a year yet but if my past self even knew where I would be in less than a year, she would be shocked, in a good way! I hope when I have been here a year I can reflect on the things I have mentioned and think “Wow, I actually did that. I actually made that happen.” I have enhanced my technical skills, started learning about project management and built up client relationships. And that’s the point really. As a graduate joining a company, there is so much more yet to learn; do not think you will be packing your brain away because your colleagues are constantly striving to be the best and there are so many new challenges to navigate! The important thing is that you are proactive and ensure that tasks are done to the best of your ability. Whether they are simple or important tasks that affect the client directly; you will build up a close network of trust between your colleagues, and it’s that trust which has enabled me to take on so many new challenges and responsibilities.