James Osborne - Building Services (Electrical Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship) at AECOM

Posted: 23rd of January 2020 by Parisha

Hi, I’m James and I work within the Building Services (Electrical) Engineering team at AECOM in our St Albans office. Alongside my work I’m studying a level 6 degree apprenticeship in Building Services Engineering at London Southbank University.


What team do you work for and what does your role entail?

I am currently working in the MEP team in St. Albans as an apprentice electrical design engineer. I have found my role to be quite varied in the time I have been here, since joining my role has included tasks such as producing drawings through CAD and BIM software’s, liaising with senior engineers to produce detailed and technical designs, performing calculations and incorporating these into designs and reviewing and commenting on drawings are just a few of the tasks I have participated in. I also travel to London one day a week for University and sometimes required to travel to other locations for meetings or site visits.


Why did you choose AECOM?

AECOM appealed to me due to the potential opportunity. Being one of the biggest engineering firms in the world meant to me that I would be able to work on some of the most interesting projects in the industry whilst gaining experience from some of the best and most experienced engineers. Also being part of a global corporation means the option for travel is there. Due to the size of the company the potential for growth is as much as you want it to be, which for me having this option of progression was a huge pull factor that led me to joining.


What is your favourite project you have worked on and why?

I have mainly worked on two large projects since joining, both have been very interesting and I have learnt a lot from both, however my favourite has been a multi development project in London called ‘The Broadway’. I have found it especially interesting due to the variety of the job. The development includes 5 high end tower blocks, multiple commercial units, a swimming pool, underground parking and multiple retail units. Working on this job has given me good exposure to different sectors and therefore different standards and design principles. Whilst the job is still in design stage, some construction is currently underway and I am looking forward to seeing the job through and being able to witness our design become a reality.


How has the AECOM Apprentice programme developed your career so far?

As I have been able to work whilst studying, I have obviously had exposure and started to gain experience which I simply would not get from studying fulltime. I have already worked on interesting projects and have been able to benefit from the vast experience and knowledge of my colleagues. This also makes studying easier as I am able to apply what I’m learning at university to industry situations. Also having engineers in the office who can help with my studies is a huge benefit, especially when there is something I am perhaps struggling with or don’t understand. I would also say that the apprenticeship programme has developed my career on a more general level. I have developed communication skills through corresponding with contractors, architects and clients – I think being comfortable in a business environment is very important and something that you can learn from a young age through the apprenticeship programme that you may not experience until later if you were to go to university full time.


What technical skills have you developed?

From attending university I have developed my maths and physics skills significantly - which is of course very important as it is often the underlying principles of the design work that an Engineer does. I have also learnt to use various software, particularly AutoCAD and Microstation. I’ve also been able to learn Revit which is a cutting-edge BIM software, which will be very beneficial for me in my future career as it is the latest software for MEP design. I’ve been able to carry out some calculations such as lighting and load calculations which have been incorporated into designs.


What is the social side of working for AECOM like?

There is a good work/social balance at AECOM. There is a sports and social club available to all employees, which host various events such as go-karting, theatre trips, quiz nights and many other events. At the end of every month there is an end of month drinks night open to everyone where you can meet people from different departments.


What are your career aspirations and how will the AECOM Apprentice programme help you achieve these?

In the next few years I hope to complete my degree and graduate from university. I also want to continue to develop my technical abilities and eventually progress to Engineer level. These are both made possible through the apprenticeship programme. By enabling me to study as I work I will be able to get my degree whilst also gaining experience which will allow me to progress towards becoming an Engineer. I feel that I have definitely made the right decision in joining AECOM’s apprenticeship programme rather than going to university full-time. By taking this route I will be able to achieve my goals sooner and gain experience which will be invaluable to my professional development.


What advice would you give students considering applying to AECOM?

AECOM is a large company with a large variety of jobs available. Within the disciplines of Engineering alone there are many different opportunities. My advice would be to research each role and ensure you choose the best role for you. If you are considering a career in engineering I would recommend the apprenticeship route. For me personally it has been so much more beneficial than studying full time. I feel that gaining experience in the kind of work that AECOM has is an opportunity that can set you up for a career in engineering – and not something that should be passed up.

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