Behind the Job - Thomas Foster, Junior Site Engineer at Sirius

  • 11th April 2023

Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to pursue a career in Civil Engineering?

From a young age, I’ve always had a strong interest in maths and problem-solving. During my time in school, this developed into a passion for engineering - an industry within which you are constantly overcoming new challenges and searching for solutions.

There are so many different directions you can take within engineering. After a lot of research I decided to study Civil Engineering at Teesside University and I can honestly say that I’ve never looked back. 

What key skills do you need as a Junior Site Engineer?

In my opinion, good communication skills are essential if you are to succeed. Throughout the day, I’m in constant conversation with drivers, site managers and other engineers. If the project is to run successfully, it’s crucial that everyone is up-to-date on the latest changes, plans and issues. I love getting to know new people, so I really enjoy this element of the job.

What does your typical day look like?

My day begins with the journey to the site. I can be based on projects right across the North East and typically manage several at once. Larger scale jobs can last for months at a time, with others being completed in only a few days. 

I specialise in remediation, so when I arrive at work I check the ground is properly prepared for construction, survey ground after preparation, and compile drawings and reports to pass on to clients. The structure of my days also depends on the time of year. While I am always kept busy, I have found that things tend to slow down in the winter and pick up again in spring. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

For me, the variation is what I love most. My job is never tedious - from working on new sites to collaborating with new people - each day is completely different. There is a strong sense of community in the North East and while I may not see the same faces for a while, the next time I do, the bonds we built are as strong as ever. 

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career within Civil Engineering?

Do your research. This industry is diverse and it’s really important that you understand which area you are interested in working within. 

It’s also important to combine practical learning with a solid understanding of the theory. For me, I achieved this by going to university and completing as many placements as possible. Working in the industry, I can see how this experience has really helped prepare me for life on site.

How did you find working with the team at Coleman James?

Working with the Coleman James team has been a positive experience. I began my job search having been made redundant and I honestly didn't know what to expect. Beth Cullen, Associate Director of Construction, didn’t just find me the perfect position - she also took the time to guide me through each stage of the process. I sincerely feel that I wouldn't be in such a fortunate position if it wasn't for her support.