I graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Burgos in northern Spain in 2015. At the time, the country was in the grip of recession, so I decided to move to Dublin in search of work. I spent my first three nights in a hostel in the city centre before finding a room in a house share in Glasnevin, north Dublin.
Finding a job
Every morning, I would set out from home, CV in hand, visiting as many consultancies and contractors offices as I could find. Finally, one month after arriving in Dublin, my phone rang, and I was offered a traineeship at an engineering company in south Dublin. I accepted the position immediately, but eight weeks into the job, I was told that my English was not of a high enough standard to continue the traineeship. I was crushed.
My disappointment didn’t last long, however. Just a few days later, I received the offer of a place on Roughan & O’Donovan’s (ROD) graduate programme. I was delighted with the opportunity to develop practical engineering skills while working on different teams, across different engineering disciplines, including water, site, buildings, transportation and geotechnics. I signed the contract and my professional career began.
On my first day at ROD, the first question I was asked by my manager was, “Do you play football?” I knew then that working here was going to be fun. Was it always easy? No. It was my first real experience of the professional world, and I was struggling to master the English language. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the different accents, losing the train of countless conversations and always being late to get the joke!
With so many different nationalities working at ROD, everyone was very understanding, and as I learned how to handle new tasks and deal with different personalities, my confidence grew. By the end of my two years on the graduate programme, I had worked across so many different teams in the company that my colleagues liked to say the only rotation I missed was reception!
I have been working with the geotechnical team for the past two years. Initially, I was more of an assistant, producing information for someone else to use in their designs. Today, I am producing geotechnical design reports, ground investigation schedules, global stability of earthworks, settlement calculations and much more.
It is not an easy job; it demands knowledge, focus and… the golden rule of my manager: consistency! But I enjoy the challenge, and I take every day in the office as an opportunity to learn something new.
Engineers Without Borders
In 2019, I spent two weeks working with a team of 19 volunteers from Engineers Without Borders on a Habitat for Humanity Ireland housing project in the Central Province town of Kabwe in Zambia. My job was to assist in the build of two, three-room houses for two low-income families. This challenging and rewarding project taught me a valuable lesson about the strength of the human spirit and the power of hope.
The most difficult part of moving to Dublin was leaving behind my family and close friends. Saying goodbye to sunny days and paella was tough too! Will I go back to Spain? Probably, but I am in no rush, particularly when I hear stories about the difficult conditions for young engineers at home. I am happy to have made the move to Dublin when I did.