Behind the Job - Daniel Brown, Junior Surveyor at Sirius

  • 3rd March 2023

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

I’ve always enjoyed and found maths and physics to be my strengths at school. This led me to consider a career within the construction industry and I went on to study Civil Engineering at Northumbria University. 

I was one of the many students undertaking their degrees during the Covid pandemic. Therefore, I was keen to get my foot in the door and gain as much hands-on experience after my graduation. 

What were your initial impressions of the Civil Engineering industry?

It was everything I was hoping for and more. At Sirius I’m currently specialising in earth works ensuring the ground is prepared correctly before construction. It’s great to have the opportunity to develop in a specialist field. 

While my degree has proven helpful, there’s definitely been a few surprises when it comes to working on site, having to think on your feet and getting fully immersed in the industry. I’m always learning something new every day. 

What key skills do you need as a Junior Surveyor?

It might sound obvious but good communication skills are key. Often as a surveyor you will be working across multiple sites so it’s vital that you build a strong relationship with the site managers and the team on each site to ensure you can stay in the loop on the latest developments,  timings and any issues. 

On projects you’ll also be working with subcontractors as well as directly with the client so great people skills as well as clear communications are a must. 

To progress in this industry you need to continually expand your knowledge, from learning to use the latest technologies e.g. AutoCAD through to staying on top of new ways of working.

What does your typical day look like as a Junior Surveyor?

I currently work on sites right across the North East from Eaglescliffe to Cramlington, so I’m often travelling a lot on any given day. 

Depending on the type of projects Sirius is delivering, I can be working across up to three full-scale sites at any given time. Right now, many of these sites are for new housing. 

At each site I carry out a range of surveys. For example, at the beginning of a project during the excavations to check the condition of the soil, I will establish the lowest point we can dig down to. I will then produce drawings to pass my findings to the client so they can modify the foundations if need be.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Thanks to working onsite and across the North East, everyday is extremely varied. I’m always meeting and learning from different people, gaining new experiences and knowledge. Plus, nothing beats working with the teams onsite.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career as a Surveyor?

There are a lot of different avenues you can take to enter the industry. However, I personally do advocate thinking about going to university. I’ve found the theory in my course has helped me pick up things on the job quickly which is helping me to progress. 

It’s also important to come into this career with your eyes wide open. What I mean by that is being aware of things like how much travel is involved, and that you might need to relocate depending on where the job is based, as well as working across multiple sites in all weathers. It is a demanding job but if it’s the right fit for you, go for it! 

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

Beth Cullen, Associate Director of Construction did an amazing job. I still can’t quite believe that she was able to get me such a great opportunity to kick-start my Civil Engineering career. As a recent graduate conscious that I didn’t have onsite experience, due to the pandemic, I was nervous. However, she did everything to help me at each stage. I really appreciate how she kept intouch and even now she still checks in with me to make sure I’m enjoying the job.