“Hello is this, Mohamed? she asked “, yes! I replied. “You applied for a student Engineering placement role with us, and I was wondering if you are still interested?”. Believe it or not my response was – which one? Silly, isn’t it?
Perhaps over the course of 10 months I had applied for more than 20 placement jobs. Being unsuccessful at most of them with no feedback as to how I could improve and set my self up for the next, some of them didn’t even bother.
Having polished my cv/cover letters along with pre-interview rehearsals; thanks to my University careers team– Birmingham City university. I was fortunate to pull a few face-to-face interviews with the likes of Jacobs and Network rail.
I could recall having drove 3hrs 30min to Exeter for the interview with Jacobs, for a ‘Civil Engineering year placement – consultant role’, and also being called to an interview for a ‘Network analyst’ placement role with Network rail (which by the way was completely the opposite to Civil Engineering).
Unfortunately , both were unsuccessful but provided me with constructive feedbacks. The need for such desperation was to find answers as I was uncertain to whether I was on the right career path thus by having a glimpse of the real practical world would either make me like it or dislike it.
I guess when you’re lost you either keep on fumbling in the dark beaten by invisibility or show resilience by finding that one tiny crack that could burst into beam of colourful lights with just a single punch.
Personally, the morals of these unsuccessful opportunities were : do your research, take feedback as a form of constructive criticism and of course everything do happen for a reason.
She responded with an understandable laughter followed by: ‘the job is available if you’re still interested’. Prior to this call, I was still at university in my second year desperately applying for placements and hoping to secure one before my final year.
This meant if I could secure a placement I would skip university for a year (a gap year) and come back to complete my final year but this time around topped with experience and answers.
It also meant I could miss out in graduating with my day 1 friends and would return back the following year to new faces (making new friends all over again).
Anyway, she gave me a phone interview and said she’d get back to me. At this point I was numb to rejection thus I thought I wouldn’t hear back from her or possibly in weeks time. Fast forward 20minutes later I received a call back from her offering a face- to- face interview with project managers the following week.
Hope my face portrayed, excitement my mood showed, but despair my mind felt . One thing I left out was the job was 2hrs 30mins away from my town and if the interview came out successful I would have to relocate from my family and friends for a year.
Perhaps the adrenaline rush of finding purpose and answers were far more important than comfort.
On the 18th of July 2019, I drove to the city of Brighton along with two friends of mine – friends that contributed to my confidence that day. I got there hoping to be greeted by a fancy building with prestigious interiors where the air con caress your skin with Goosebumps like those of my previously failed interviews.
To my surprise the scene was more practical and lively. I parked and walked into these stacked containers to be embraced by the smell of papers – papers scribbled with knowledge sprinkled everywhere, smell of pace – pace of hard work and reliability.
I was hosted by two interviewers one of whom sat right next to me and the other opposite, across a long wooden office table. To me this symbolised comfort, friendliness and professionalism.
I sat there with honesty and authenticity while I carefully answered the questions thrown at me. Mid way through the interview they started throwing questions about my relocation plans, when I’d like to start and salary (yes you do get paid for Engineering placement).
At this point I silently smiled in disguise as the thought of me relocating is actually becoming a reality.
I was offered the job at the spot and ask to them to allow me a month to quit my part-time job, to inform my university and sort out an accommodation in Brighton.
It’s worth mentioning the company who saw the never-ending failures on my search for placements and decided to put an end to my blows is Dyer & Butler.
A Civil Engineering company that changed the course of my career doubts and navigated my uncertainties to a much broader horizon of endless clarity . Off to Brighton I went !! A city that later turns out to be my favourite in England. Everything do happen for a reason.
Site office in Brighton 2019.
By the way…these two handsome guys weren’t the interviewers. They offered a lot more down the line!