James Atkinson



United Kingdom
We were able to look around homes at each stage of the construction from a patch of dirt, to the finished show home.

More about James

Placement company: Arcadis

What have you enjoyed most about your course at NTU?

“Our final piece of coursework and biggest one to date was a team project lasting several months. Our lectures acted as clients with whom we had meetings with each Friday discussing and updating us on an evolving brief to refurbish a local theatre in the City Centre. We learnt many new skills which I use regularly now in my “day job” such as CAD work, measured surveys, schedules of condition, condition reports and maintenance plans. I didn’t enjoy it too much at the time but even now it’s nice to look back at it.

“The most useful trip to me was a visit to a new build home development site in Leicester. We were able to look around homes at each stage of the construction from a patch of dirt, to the finished show home. This allowed us to see and touch what we were learning about rather than just reading or drawing the particular elements. Another trip was our trip to Malta in the Summer. This opportunity enabled us to gain an understanding and appreciation of the way buildings are built to suit a certain lifestyle and more importantly a particular environment.

How did you spend your placement year?

“My placement at Arcadis (formerly EC Harris) is in a predominantly project led environment, working within the education and social infrastructure teams. This means we win commissions from clients such as multi-academy trusts, Ministry of Justice and The Land Registry and if the buildings they own or use need facilities management, defect diagnosis, refurbishment, project management and legal work – we take care of it for them.

“The most interesting aspect of my placement has to be the local work we do. I work in the centre of Birmingham, a city which is a few years into a massive overhaul and improvement scheme. So the work we do that is a part of this, such as HSBC’s new HQ for personal and business banking, academy refurbishments and expanding of Jaguar Land Rover’s factory infrastructure all interest me on a personal level.

How has your placement aided your employability?

“As expected, I’ve built upon my knowledge gained from my first two years through practical experience and implementation. But what I’ve improved most on are my soft skills – interacting with difficult and impatient clients, working with budgets, meeting deadlines (the kind that costs you money, not a lower grade in your coursework!) and getting the most from a team environment all had to be learnt very quickly and I think are needed to be successful in a workplace that changes week by week.”

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418
Related student profiles
  • Profile icon


    Aamir Khalique

    Primary Education

    United Kingdom


  • Profile icon


    Aaron Santos

    Politics and International Relations

    United Kingdom


  • Profile icon


    Aaron Quay Wern Han

    Law (Full-time)