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Heard about AECOMs exciting Middle East Internship Program?

Heard about AECOM's exciting Middle East Internship Program?

 August 31, 2021

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Imagine being part of exciting real-life projects that help forge smart cities, or getting to work on 3D modelling and rendering for a masterplanning competition. At AECOM, talented interns get to embark on this reality via an enthralling and supported journey that provides significant knowledge and experience to kickstart an exciting career direction

Internships provide a structured learning experience for students to work in an industry, or career of interest, to apply theoretical knowledge and explore careers whilst developing professional skills.

At AECOM, 17 students have been on a three-month internship program in the Middle East. 

Mohiuddin Quadri, Highways Intern, Shweta Gandhi, Urban Planning Intern, Vibha Vishandas, Urban Design Intern, Shifa Ziyad, Urban Design Intern, Sarah Marzouk, Water Intern and Osama Ramadan, Mechanical Engineering Intern, share their experience on what AECOM’s internship program is like and offer some top tips to others who are venturing out on their own career journey.

What has the AECOM internship aimed to achieve?

Shweta shares what attracted her to the program: “The placement at AECOM's Urban Planning Studio in Dubai struck a chord with my passion. While I continue to pursue my Master’s and work on my dissertation, I wanted to start working in a professional environment with experts and experience what's in store first hand. As a young professional, it was vital for me to learn practical approaches to planning and design, all of which AECOM is able to provide.” 

AECOM Middle East internships

One of the core aims of the internship is to provide genuine opportunities for the students to learn about their desired career path outside of a classroom environment. “The internship program is so much more than a work experience placement”, says Vicky O’Neill, Manager, Talent Management. “It includes learning objectives related to increasing the students’ knowledge, training to develop additional skills, and quality mentoring to guide them,” adds Vicky.

What real-world exposure was gained?

So, what has the reality really been like for the students on the program? 

Shweta shares what she has been working on: “I had the opportunity to work on a range of projects, starting from competitions to large-scale framework strategic plans; the staff at AECOM trusted me to give my input into some business development areas within the studio, focusing on Smart Cities. Such exposure for an intern can set one apart from the rest when embarking on the career journey as a full-time professional.” Shweta adds that “from a learning standpoint, it was thrilling to see how sustainable design and planning can come together to deliver remarkable outcomes.”

Mohiuddin shares some of the technical skills he has gained on the program: “My role at AECOM revolves around Road and Highway design. I have been working on the design of horizontal curves, vertical curves, parking design, survey processing and analysis, road cross-sections, corridor modelling, and swept path analysis. I have gained a basic understanding of road design software including AutoCAD and Civil3D. In addition, I learned the basic guiding criteria and applicable design manuals for roads design in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”

Vibha also shares an insight into what she has been working on: “The project that I am actively working on is a master-planning project in Saudi Arabia. Here, I have seen the evolution of the project from the conceptual phase to the submission phase in the near future. I have learned about the different stages, and the amount of work that goes on in the background before the submission of any deliverables, in addition to the importance of working with a diverse team where inputs are required from everyone from different departments to create a holistic outcome.”

AECOM Middle East intern

Finally, Osama shares some of the projects that he has been working on: “My role focuses on the design on mechanical systems in buildings. I have worked on a project in Abu Dhabi in which I calculated cooling loads and air flow rates using HAP and IES VE software. I also designed a duct system for another project as part of my training. In addition, I have been exposed to a project site and visited a manufacturing factory.”

The support on offer at AECOM

Keen to ensure that the interns never feel as though they don’t have someone to turn to, AECOM assigns each student a manager, mentor and buddy. But what is this like in reality?

“Having a manager, mentor and buddy has been really useful,” says Vibha. “Initially, when I was new, I had so many questions and having someone I could turn to with even the silliest of questions made me feel that I am not alone.”

Shweta also found having such support particularly valuable: “Having a manager who can guide you and encourage you to explore your interests right in the early stages of one's career can define the upcoming experiences (or so I've observed). My manager, mentor and director helped me understand all the key projects that were ongoing and where I could get involved right from the get-go. They also brought me out of my comfort zone by urging me to try things that I would never have imagined attempting all by myself. They helped me plan my three months at AECOM in a way that I could take back learnings to implement in the foreseeable future.” 

Learning and development opportunities

An AECOM internship offers students access to a leaning pathway in AECOM University (AECOM’s learning management platform), which includes training on core business skills such as writing effective business emails, time management top tips and developing emotional intelligence. 

“I liked the unconscious bias course the best,” says Sarah. “Learning about how we all are unconsciously biased without even realizing it (and hence the term “unconscious”) was eye opening for me. I can say with confidence that this course will help me in my career to not be unconsciously biased and be better prepared to take careful decisions that might be affected by unconscious bias now that I am aware of it.”

Mohiuddin thought the best course was about developing emotional intelligence: “it helps you build effective relationships at work and provides insight on how to become self-aware so you can identify how to overcome difficult situations.”  

The students are also provided with an Internship Workbook which they work through during their tenure at AECOM. The Workbook has some fun facts about AECOM, details the structure of the program and provides a place to set goals. It also asks the students several questions which are designed to help them scope out exactly what they are looking for, both from AECOM and in a professional role. 

“I believe that the main benefit behind the Workbook was brainstorming about how my career should look like and how I would like it to grow,” says Osama. “Thinking about what interests me and typing them down also helps tremendously in figuring out what I want to do and motivates me to plan for it.”

AECOM Middle East internship

Finally, the students can attend Lunch & Learn online sessions which are part of the Middle East Graduate Development Program. Shweta attended two Lunch & Learn sessions: “It was inspiring to watch young graduates speak about aspects beyond the projects and topics that focus on helping individuals grow.” Shifa also enjoyed attending the sessions: “The Lunch & Learn sessions had some interesting topics about personal development which were fun to learn from the graduates.”

Helpful advice from AECOM interns

So, do the AECOM interns have any top tips they could share when it comes to starting a new role or embarking on a career journey? 

“Never be hesitant to ask for advice or feedback when you are faced with a challenge. During my experience at AECOM, I encountered a design issue which took me an hour to solve because I was trying to figure out the solution on my own. When I asked my mentor for a solution, she provided a solution in five minutes. The lesson learnt is to learn from the experiences of your seniors, this will save you a lot of time in multiple situations,” advises Mohiuddin.

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as no one starts off perfectly! I once read somewhere that “Embarrassment is the cost of entry. If you aren’t willing to look like a foolish beginner, you’ll never become a graceful master” and it has stuck to my mind since then!” acknowledges Sarah.

“If I would give one advice as an intern is taking initiative. You should always have the mindset of approaching co-workers and taking initiative in connecting and working with them…Taking initiative will prove your interest and motivation to work, learn, and grow. This approach is my personal winning mentality,” remarks Osama.

Vibha stresses the importance of watch and learn. She says: “I cannot emphasize the importance of learning from others especially as interns who are new to the field because academically things are usually completed in a linear process but professionally every step is a cyclical process and they have an impact on other aspects.”

A tremendous opportunity for interns

Sarah shares her final thoughts on the program and how she has found it. She says: “My experience has been awesome so far! It has exceeded my expectations by far and has definitely ticked all the boxes I was looking for. Everything is going smoothly and according to plan. This credit I would have to give to my amazing team who helped make this experience such a rich one, and to AECOM for providing a nurturing environment to learn and grow! From the great employees, to the nice offices, from the AECOM University learning path to the Lunch & Learn virtual sessions, AECOM has efficaciously succeeded in creating the perfect healthy learning atmosphere for its interns.”

Exciting opportunities available

Learn more about AECOM internships in the MIddle East and how your career might benefit from real-world experience and exposure.

Or learn more about AECOM's further internship opportunities across the world.


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