Female civil engineering student looking through total station

Need civil engineering career advice? We offer one-to-one meetings with industry experts

Civil engineering students studying at University of Brighton are given the opportunity to take part in 1-1 ‘surgery’ meetings with professionals that form our Industrial Advisory Board.

Look out for the weekly email with details on how to arrange one, and take advantage of their expertise!

The 1-1 surgery meetings vary in time and location, and typically can last about 30-40 minutes. They can be arranged either via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, on the phone, or in person when industry members are on campus.

It is a great way to get advice on your career path, ask general questions about the profession or seek advice on a range of placement/employment matters.  Typical examples of topics or questions asked are as follows:

  • Am I on the right pathway? (BEng or MEng)
  • Final year project topics
  • Summer placements/industrial placement year
  • First employer – should I work for a Contractor or a Consultant? Does it matter?
  • What is a career in civil engineering like?
  • CV and cover letter writing – assistance can be provided with these
  • LinkedIn profile – marketing yourself

Read about how these meetings have helped some of our students:

“As a final year student, it was critical for me to secure a graduate engineering role before graduating. After several attempts on trying to accomplish this myself, I decided to reach out and utilise the university’s facilities to ensure that I can maximise my performance during the interview and assessment stages.

Additionally, I had a difficulty choosing between the consulting or contracting route. As a result, I got into contact with Nigel Clifford from the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) and he was so kind to offer his own experiences as both a consultant and contractor. Through his experience, and from my other surgery meetings with other members of the IAB, I was able to make a definitive decision on which route aligns with my goals and aspirations the best.

We met via MS Teams on multiple occasions to edit my CV, prepare for the technical interview, and provide advice for the analytical assessment centre stage. His recommendations really helped me remain calm and confident throughout all stages.

I found the mock interview with Nigel and Tom Christy the most beneficial component as most of the technical questions came up in the actual interview that I was preparing for. Furthermore, the mock interviews were catered to the job description and role that you are interested in as there are various facets of the civil engineering industry. Throughout the process, Nigel and Tom were incredibly patient and forthcoming. In the end, I managed to secure a graduate role with one of the top consultants in the UK thanks to the IAB’s invaluable mentoring. “

Shahd Abdulla

Watch Shahd’s video about how the Industrial Advisory Board advice helped her get her job:


“I have had three 1-1 meetings altogether, all during this year during my Masters. The first time I decided to book a session, it was actually really spontaneous and I had no idea what to expect. I was really lost in life, I was demotivated and stuck, I did not have belief in myself if I can ever become an engineer. In fact, by this point I had applied to over 100 different jobs (related and unrelated to engineering) and got rejected by them all.

Then I saw Ourania’s weekly announcements about these meetings with civil engineering partners and I thought, well what do I have to lose? Who’s better to inspire me and point me in the right direction than experienced professional engineers who are currently doing what I have always wanted to do! I had two meetings with Nigel Clifford and they were really important to me because he made me realise that actually I am capable, and I can still become a successful engineer even if I had gotten a 2.2 in my BEng civil engineering degree. He encouraged me to create a LinkedIn account and connect with others, and gave me valuable help on my CV, and made me realise my passion for structural engineering, and to not ever give up on that.

A few months later, I was super motivated to succeed but I was stressed about the hundreds of job rejections from before, and I wanted to make sure that when I apply for my next job, I’m doing it right. I also have a vision of wanting to travel and engineer for the less fortunate in developing countries, in particular my homeland, and I really wanted to know if this was ever going to be possible or realistic because this is why I wanted to become a civil engineer in the first place?

So, I spoke to George Plant from Curtins. We had a really good chat; he really inspired me and gave me proper understanding of the working world of engineering. He also told me about Engineering without Borders which I am 100% going to become a part of, giving me hope that my vision is totally realistic. AND this call landed me with my first ever engineering interview with Curtins! I will be working there as a graduate structural engineer this September 2021.

Honestly, I can’t stress enough how much of a golden opportunity this is and wish I used it more to my advantage during my undergraduate years. Every single person who does these meetings voluntarily offer to help you out, with any questions, small or deep with no judgement and expert advice and you won’t find this type of opportunity anywhere else! It will never be a waste of your time, and who knows a simple 30-minute call could change your life forever like it did for me.

I would never have gotten this job if it wasn’t for these meetings and I am forever grateful! Friends, family, and course mates are great for advice relating to your career I’m sure, but its unmatched with the type of advice you’d be getting from a professional who has experienced everything you are right now and MADE it in the end. THAT is inspiration and sometimes we could all use a bit of that.”

Kajana Sivapathasundararajah


“I am a third-year MEng Civil Engineering student at the University of Brighton. When I went to the 1-on-1 session with Nigel I was a second-year student who wanted to know more about the civil engineering industry and how it worked before finishing my course. If I am being honest I didn´t have high expectations for the session, I thought it would just be a small chat with someone from the industry and ask a few questions, but I didn´t realise how wrong I was until the session was done.

Before starting the session, I had a vague idea of how the professional world would work, especially the civil engineering industry, but after closely listening what someone with way more experience and knowledge than what I currently have and bringing up questions I prepared beforehand my overall understanding about the industry was extending. I learned so much about having the right mindset, started thinking more long-term and having a more proactive attitude towards networking and learning as much as I can.

After the session, my mentality towards the future completely changed. The most obvious differences were that I created a LinkedIn account and started being active in that app and that I seriously started to think about where I would like to work, what kind of work would I like to do and what other things would help my professional development. Furthermore, to gain a wider perspective, I also spoke with other IAB members where I also learned even more about the industry from their perspective.

To finish off on a good note, I spread the word to my course mates about these sessions and I highly recommended them to anyone studying civil engineering or any related course and that take their future seriously.”

Carlos Perez


“I was in my first year of my civil engineering degree when I had my 1-to-1 session with Nigel. It was easy to access and organise as a weekly message was sent out to students with contact details of multiple IAB members.

The reason I organised a surgery session was to find out what life is like as a civil engineer and advice on my journey to becoming a successful engineer. Although I didn’t expect to receive much time from the session, Nigel answered all my questions with detail and took time to help me understand about the industry. It really increased my motivation to become a Civil engineer and inspired me to apply for summer internships.

Nigel made me realise that no matter my experience I should be on platforms like LinkedIn, reading about the industry and looking for potential job opportunities. I have told my friends how useful I found this surgery session and would highly recommend having at least one call with an IAB member to discuss anything that is of concern.”

Rene Zokra

“I was in my final year at University as a BEng Civil Engineering student when I first approached the Civil Engineering Industrial Advisory Board (IAB). I arranged to meet with Nigel Clifford in response to Dr Ourania Tsioulou’s regular emails about meeting with a professional from the IAB. Up till this time in my third year I had previously overlooked the opportunity to meet with a member from the IAB. However, I decided to meet with Nigel to attain greater knowledge of the Civil Engineering profession. I am very thankful that eventually I did arrange a meeting as it helped and encouraged me greatly. Nigel, kindly put some of my anxieties to rest and gave me confidence in becoming a working civil engineer.

Subsequently to our meeting, I responded to the IAB’s general email to attend a mock interview. The mock interview followed a mock application process, requiring a cover letter and CV, was held by Nigel, Ben Hamer from Mackley, and Tom Christy from Southern Water. I found the mock interview very beneficial as it was good to practice being under pressure like that of a real interview. Moreover, I received detailed feedback on how I could improve my performance in an interview which was very valuable. I found all three interviewers very professional while still being empathetic and considerate towards me.

I would highly recommend to anyone that it is well worth meeting with a member from the IAB, and to take the time to participate in a mock interview. It has given me greater confidence to go forward with my career in civil engineering and I look forward to working in the profession.”

Scott Banks 

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