Each year we take on graduates, trainees, year in industry and summer placement students, and apprentices. Currently more than 7% of our employees are in one of these roles, a stat which we’re really proud of as it’s significantly higher than most organisations.

This past summer we were lucky enough to be joined by Isabel from Nottingham Trent University. Here is her own record of the eight weeks she spent with our South East Division.

“I am currently studying Civil Engineering at Nottingham Trent University and about to start my second year. I began a summer work placement at Knights Brown in July and have just completed eight weeks of work with them, three weeks in their Rochester office, then several short visits to different sites and finally four weeks on site at Earls Court in London. The breadth and depth of experience is what has set a placement with Knights Brown apart from other firms for me; it’s really brought my studies at university to life.

I spent the first three weeks of my placement in the Rochester office where I was given an insight into the different roles in the company and how everyone works together. In week one it was decided I would be put on the Earls Court Pagoda Project for JC Decaux. I spent time going over construction drawings and familiarising myself with the project in readiness for going to site on my fourth week. It was great to come into the company and be put straight onto a real project where I could see all the planning and phases of construction.

In the next two weeks, I spent time going to current sites learning new skills and gaining an insight into the different types of projects that Knights Brown is involved with. On a visit to Newhaven, I sat in on an agenda meeting where I could understand the full extent of the works before having a tour of the site. It was a good experience to talk to the engineers and quantity surveyors and learn what their jobs require and what they give to the project.

On my second week, I worked on a tender job in Lewisham where I spent some time with Mike, an estimator, who introduced me to new software called Causeway and Blue Beam. I was then able to use this to create a bill of quantities for the project. This was very useful to me as these are skills I can now take forward in my career.

On my last week in the office, I spent time on the Addington Lane underpass. It started with an initial site viewing to put the proposed job in perspective. I was taught to look out for certain details such as underground/over ground services, how to divert traffic and to think how the construction phase will work. I created some sketches for the phase plan using details given to me in the AIP before returning to the site to see if it was possible to construct in this way.

The fourth week of my placement saw me join the team in Earls Court who are constructing a huge egg-shaped digital advertising structure. I joined Jason, Roger and Marc on site whilst the project was in the demolition stage. It was great to practise the surveying skills I learnt at university and also develop them by learning new technology. Jason showed me how to use the automatic Total station, level and laser level and I was thrilled to be involved in marking out the site.

A standard day on site involved: arriving for morning briefing before checking the permits to dig/break ground, Jason and I then headed on to site and started setting out using surveying equipment for tasks being completed that day. The works going on around us had to be checked to see if there were any new occurrences that did not match the construction drawings. RFIs (Requests for Information) were then written up and sent to the client and designer if it was necessary to query any of the work. I primarily worked alongside Jason, the sub agent, who was knowledgeable and fun to work with. I was encouraged to ask questions and to help out with the onsite work and it was great to actually have an impact on the project.

The works on site consisted of the demolition of concrete slab, cutting internal walls down to soffit level, hydro demolition, installation of temporary steel props, trial holes and surveying. I have realised since being there that health and safety is very important on site for example, when hydro-demolition was underway the noise levels reached 100 decibels so it was important that everyone was wearing ear protection. We also had to consider other site hazards, for instance, saw cutting, steel cutting, plant movement, falling from height and making sure everyone was wearing the correct PPE for their tasks.

I really enjoyed my time at Knights Brown and it was great to see how all the office based planning transforms into the onsite works. I found it interesting to see how work is organised on site and excited to be involved in the decisions made. It has been a wholly rewarding and educational experience and I hope to come back and gain more experience with Knights Brown in the future.”

Many of those that join us on a placement return to work with us on completion of their studies. We would be delighted if Isabel were one of them.

If you’re interested in joining us please take a look at the relevant pages in the “Work with Us” section and contact our HR department on HR@knightsbrown.co.uk.