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Marija Sosnova

BEng (Hons) Civil and Structural Engineering
Placement with Swanton Consulting, London (July 2016 – July 2017)

Marija Sosnova

Why did you apply to the University of Bradford? What was your first impression of the university and the city? What did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?

Being an EU student, I knew nothing about England or Bradford, and somehow I was happy to be amongst those people who came unprepared.  Both the city and the university widened my outlook on people, culture, and economics and most importantly my industry. The university reached out to me with its charismatic and very helpful staff, and I think they “got” me.   I chose Civil and Structural Engineering by trying things out.  

In Bradford it feels a bit like a childhood; you can spend money and not feeling broke, you have the playground, the mates, and you have your own slogan “Team Bradford” that makes you feel like the captain of the ship.

Why did you choose that particular course?  What did you like and enjoy most about the course?

I like that I have everything I need for my personal development. We have up-to-date and well equipped labs, outstanding lecturers who contribute not only to the university, but for example, are taking part in Eurocodes development or giving lectures in IStructE and more.  I value the presence of people and companies working with the university.  Some knowledge from my 2nd year modules is very useful at the work I am doing right now.

What tips would you give to prospective students, about the course at the University of Bradford and the university itself?

If there is something that doesn’t work for you, look out for help.  It is there and it is easily accessible. And don’t be a “wood”; join the sports and societies to give yourself a rest.

What support have you received from Career Development Services / Placement Staff?

Looking towards 2nd year was a bit stressful due to the applications for the placement, but I sorted that out quite quickly with a little help from my “friends” – staff at Career Development Services – from polishing my CV to proof reading my cover letters.  It “only” took 27 attempts or applications, but couldn’t ask for more.   At the beginning of December 2015, I already got an offer from the placement company where I recently started working.

What action are you taking to improve your employability whilst at University?

I take part in societies and sports (being in executive positions), doing self-studies (edx.org, khan etc.) and attending IStructE/ICE lectures. I have done a summer placement before, and currently I am doing a year placement in structural design, bearing in mind that real life work gives you much more than any university ever will.  It’s not a mock test!! This is where you can start your initial Professional Development within one of the institutions and acquire some of the skills required.  By doing so, you can shorten your way to gaining CEng accreditation (chartered status).

What advice would you give to your fellow students about finding placement and work experience opportunities?

Start looking for it as soon as you get your first year grades. Apply for everything that might be of interests to you, but don’t forget that there are more than big global names; a lot of award winning and successful companies are small to medium size businesses (SMEs), but they might be the best ones in their sector.  If the company that you liked doesn’t have the vacancy for the placement, ask for it.  I got my placement by simply asking using “speculative” application.

Tell us about your current placement.

I am working in Swanton Consulting in Kent as a Trainee Engineer. At work I am carrying out structural analysis and design in accordance to Eurocodes and National Annexes by hand calculations and software (such as Midas Gen).  I just finished my first week of work and already gained a lot of knowledge, which is a tip of the iceberg.  That’s the point where I realised how little I know. My placement will also include site visits, meetings with clients before tender, and other interesting initiatives from my company’s director.

How will the placement year benefit you when you return to study at the University of Bradford?

I will be more confident and have more practice, which will enable me to “hack” the Eurocode and understand different cases of structural design. Currently, I am planning to do the Finite Element Analysis course online because of my own interest and it will also ease my work and further studies.  

I am going back to the university in September 2017. Hopefully, I will secure a graduate job at my current workplace or define a more specific area in the industry for further career development after graduating.