I would absolutely recommend taking up an internship, particularly with the support that the UWE scheme provides…While academic courses provide you with a basis in the necessary skills and knowledge for a career in industry, they cannot simulate the reality of the world of work, or prepare you for the expectations, standards, conventions, collaborations and consequences of working on real-world projectsBrendan Ashby BENG (Hons) Architecture and Environmental Engineering, role: Architecture Intern, employer: Box Twenty
Describe how you felt on your first day in your Internship
I experienced a balanced combination of nerves and excitement on the first day of the internship. Obviously, there is a lot to set up and a lot to take in on the first day, and I felt as if I somewhat rushed through some of the administrative induction processes in my eagerness to get working on projects and prove my worth. The company itself was very welcoming and small scale with around 20 employees, which suited me as I was able to develop relationships with all staff and to benefit from advice and expertise from a range of areas and perspectives. Box Twenty make a point of encouraging an active social programme to facilitate team building and office energy. In my first week, I joined a team bike ride, which helped enormously to make me feel more comfortable. One thing I found very challenging during the initial weeks of the internship was having a substantial amount of coursework to do for a module resit. I would encourage any prospective interns to avoid this, if possible, as it is extremely helpful to allow yourself time in the evenings and weekends at the early stages to assimilate all the new information.
What key skills have you learnt through your internship and how do they link to your course/ career goals?
My internship was for a building services engineering firm, but construction projects are in collaboration with a wide range of related disciplines, so much of my work involved design team meetings and coordinating with architects, clients, planners, other engineering disciplines, utility providers, etc. One thing I have taken from this is the value of relationship building in this context, and the value of asking questions and raising concerns in order to share and accumulate detail and knowledge, and to clarify and coordinate all parties on the same wavelength. On a specific note, related to this as a building services engineer, the role as a consultant is frequently to check, warn and inform designers of spatial requirements and conflict issues, to avoid serious problems further into the process. This requires confidence in your own knowledge to raise concerns, but it is always better to speak up. The spatial coordination processes involved are often complex and have knock-on effects on other professionals’ work, so consistency and clarity of communication is key to this. The nature of construction design is iterative, so one valuable thing I learned is the necessity to design at an appropriate level of detail for the stage in order to avoid wasting time.
I worked a lot on one project which I helped to develop through formal design stages during my time with the company. Much of my work was conducted on software such as AutoCad, BluBeam Revu and Revit, and I gained some very valuable knowledge in terms of drawing standards and modelling processes. Above all, experience of the collaborative workflow processes and practical familiarity with RIBA stages of work I feel will stand me in very good stead in industry. I am more encouraged than before towards the engineering side of the industry. However, the internship was invaluable in giving me an understanding of the perspective of all related disciplines.
Would you recommend other UWE Bristol students take up an internship and why?
I would absolutely recommend that other UWE Bristol students take up an internship, particularly with the support that the UWE scheme provides. While academic courses provide you with a basis in the necessary skills and knowledge for a career in industry, they cannot simulate the reality of the world of work, or prepare you for the expectations, standards, conventions, collaborations and consequences of working on real-world projects. An internship experience provides a great deal of clarity on future career plans by showing you not only which aspects of an industry correspond to your ambitions and skillsets, but also those which are less appealing. I feel this view of working roles is invaluable in preparing you for both the choice and the reality of future career paths.