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By Beth McGoff, President of CivSoc

Over the past few years Carillion has become a big face of civil engineering on the University campus. They were the contractor for the new University Library and Dental School, and more recently have started construction on a new halls of residence and sports Pavilion for the University. As well as this, they are working on a number of large projects across Birmingham, the most notable perhaps being the re-development of Paradise circus in Birmingham city centre.

It is because of this that the civil engineering students are easily able to recognise Carillion as a notable company, and they have made every effort to work with CivSoc to advertise their projects, promote their company and give students a better idea of what it is to work in the contracting industry.

Over the last few years CivSoc has developed immensely as a society and we are always keen to help students make links with industry and get a good insight into the role of a Civil Engineer. We have worked with Carillion to organise a number of site visits to Carillion sites, which are always well attended and well-received by Civil Engineering students. Getting a sneak peek behind the scenes of a new University or public building, and getting to see real life applications of civil engineering techniques is not only fascinating but also very beneficial for students.

We have twice run an event called ‘An Evening with Carillion’ where representatives from a range of sectors in Carillion talk to students about their role. The representatives are usually Site Managers who are able to talk about working on a construction site with a vast range of experience, Graduate Engineers who can both relate to students and pass on their knowledge about the graduate job application, and recruiting experts who can give the company side stance regarding their recruitment process. The event was jointly organised between the EPS Community and CivSoc, thanks to Carillion’s sponsorship of the EPS Societies’ Awards in 2015 and again this year.

The evening starts with brief introductions from the representatives to give the students some background information on who they are speaking to. There is then a speed dating style exercise where the Carillion representatives rotate around small groups of students and are able to have an informal chat. This gives all students a good opportunity to ask questions on a more personal and specific basis. This model of event has proven very useful, particularly when you consider that meeting members of Carillion who have 30 years of experience of working in industry is not a very common occurrence for students to be able to ask questions so freely to someone with this background.

This event was able to help first years get an idea of working in the contracting industry, and final years get an idea of how to apply for a graduate job and how they can perform well in the application process. Carillion worked very closely with CivSoc and sent representatives that we had identified as being very useful for students to liaise with.

CivSoc as a society provides a range of experiences for civil engineering students to enhance their university experiences. By having this close link with Carillion we are able to offer new opportunities to students. Site visits and football matches have also been organised with Carillion in the past. The Evening with Carillion concept has also been adopted for other companies, with us introducing An Evening with EDF Energy this year with the same format. Companies are able to have exposure to students and students can benefit from liaising with people currently working in industry. We hope we can continue to work with Carillion and other companies in the future to offer a diverse range of opportunities to civil engineering students at Birmingham.

If you would like to know more about the ‘An Evening With…’ Series or are interested in working with our students as Carillion have, please email Grace Surman.