27 January 2020

Justin tells us why he became a mentor for engineering students

Justin, Building Information Modelling Manager and former Uxbridge College student, tells us why he became a mentor for students who are hoping to follow his career path into engineering.

The biggest challenge that I faced whilst studying at Uxbridge College was dealing with the difference in workload and getting to grips with independent learning; you have to learn to manage your time and prioritise learning and revision. I studied mechanical engineering level 3 which was a two year course and then went to Portsmouth University. At university I did civil engineering because I was into the building side of engineering for one year but I didn’t like the modules so I changed to construction engineering management.

After University I joined BAM Nuttall which is a big construction company as an innovation engineer because I liked the tech side of things. I worked on various projects such as HS2 and my role there was to find immersive technology that would benefit the company time and cost efficiently. I moved on to work with IBI which is a big architectural company in a similar role but on the architectural side of things, seeing what programmes we can use that would allow us to create 3D models in a more time and cost efficient manner. After that I moved onto the company which I work for now, Future Projects. This role is more on-site, helping the sub-contractors adapt to the new technologies.

What I’ve noticed on my journey from school up until now is that there aren’t a lot of young black engineers. I signed up to return to my old college as a mentor for engineering students so that I could help them understand the different routes they can take and give them the knowledge of what they need to learn; give them a heads up about getting into the engineering industry which is something that others before me may not have had. A lot of the students wanted to know what general work life was like, how I grew an interest in engineering and what sort of courses can help them and guide them into the right career path. They enjoyed me teaching about the technology side of things and working with virtual reality and augmented reality.

The college then asked me to become a part time tutor on a more permanent basis which now means that I’m at the college twice a week during their EPR (Employability, progress & review) lessons; I show them how they can become more professional and what soft skills they need to learn to help them in the working environment.

I’ve always enjoyed attending different workshops and conferences around London; a lot of these events are free and it’s quite cool because you can be speaking to somebody who could end up being your future employer. As part of my mentoring I wanted to encourage the students to explore these events and show them that these big people in big roles are approachable and it is worth connecting with them because you never know when they might be able to help you out later down the line. I wanted to help them with that fear of speaking to someone in a suit or being interviewed by someone who may seem intimidating and just generally developing their interpersonal skills.

The advice I’d give to students is to explore more; there are lots of free events available, all you need to do is sign up and you’ll get a lot of insights into the industry. It’s about getting over the fear of connecting with others. I used LinkedIn a lot and one of the first things I did as a mentor with the students was have them all make LinkedIn accounts and add their work experience because it all adds up and will help them in the future.

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