Esh Construction has rewarded master’s student, Chukwuma Ifeanyi Akanno, with a paid three-month internship after he wowed site teams during a nine week work experience placement in the summer. Chukwuma will work on The Buttery project which Esh is delivering on behalf of Teesside University, just a stone through from the campus Chukwuma studied at.
Born in Nigeria, Chukwuma studied civil engineering at the University of Nigeria, where he graduated with a second-class honour’s degree. He said: “I have a passion for engineering and studied for five years in Nigeria where I got my degree in civil engineering, then I gained eight years of experience delivering engineering projects.”
Chukwuma continued his studies in Nigeria and from there secured an Erasmus Exchange scholarship which took him to Spain to study a Master’s in Environmental Engineering at the University of Valladolid. However, the onset of the global pandemic saw Chukwuma return to his home country for some time, before he was given the opportunity to move the UK and study Project Management with Advanced Practice at Teesside University.
With Chukwuma keen to learn about UK construction processes, he expressed an interest in the The Buttery project which Esh is delivering at the university campus and enquired about work experience. Esh’s social value manager, Kate Marshall, arranged the placement, she said: “It was evident from first speaking with Chukwuma that he was so keen to experience a site environment here in the UK and gain an insight into the different practices, processes, and procedures.
“At Esh we are passionate about providing opportunities for those who want to pursue a career in the industry. To see Chukwuma go from a work placement to gaining an internship with Esh only highlights the opportunities that we can provide to people who want to work in construction.”
Esh’s contracts manager, Grant Watson, said: “Chukwuma has really impressed everyone on site with his desire to learn and ability to tackle new challenges head on. His attitude to learn and develop over his nine weeks on site only made our decision of awarding him an internship easier. I can’t wait to see him develop even more in the future.”
Kate recently caught up with Chukwuma to find out how he is enjoying his time with Esh and the differences between working in the UK and Nigeria.
What made you choose a career in construction?
I have a passion for engineering. I have previously studied for five years in Nigeria to get my degree and I have eight years of working experience in delivering construction projects. During my Master’s studies in Nigeria, I secured an Erasmus Exchange scholarship which took me to Spain to study Environmental Engineering at the University of Valladolid. Then the pandemic hit, and I returned to Nigeria, although I will I had been given the opportunity to study my course online. Instead, I was given the chance to work as a project manager on a construction project for seven months before being offered a place at Teesside University to study Project Management with Advanced Practice.
How did your work placement come about at Esh?
I saw the construction project at The Buttery building, and I informed my professor and work experience and placement officer of my interest in having construction site experience with Esh Construction. Following advice, I went to the site and reached out to the site manager, who was kind enough to guide me through the process that led to my enrolment for work experience training with Esh. My first experience was at Seaburn Public Realm before I came to The Buttery at Teesside University.
What is a work placement like with Esh?
It has been an expository experience as I have seen and used a lot of techniques which I have not been privileged to use before, for instance, Jack Gillum a site engineer introduced the Robotic Level Instrument, and site managers, Kris Crookes and John Lowe, ensured I got a CSCS card to make me eligible to work on a construction site. The teamwork and the attention paid to safety, health and development of team members is top notch.
Can you spot any differences between the health and safety in the UK compared to Nigeria?
Well, I can say there is more attention paid to safety and health in the UK compared to what we have in Nigeria. This is because the UK makes safety gears compulsory and badges are important to access the construction sites unlike what I found in Nigeria in some cases.
What is the next step in your career?
I intend to take advantage of internships like this to develop my skill sets. I will gain soft skills, project management certification, management skills, personal development, and exposure to a wide range of engineering practices that will shape me into a better civil engineer and project manager.
What is your message to people wanting to work in construction?
Construction is an interesting area, and one must have passion for building to enjoy the process. Be open to learn from experienced folks, ask questions, seek internships and training. You only get better in construction with more experience.
Esh Construction is currently transforming The Buttery building in a £5 million project on behalf of Teesside University. The 129-year-old building will become a multi-functional study space exclusively for postgraduate students.
At Esh we are passionate about providing opportunities for those who want to pursue a career in the industry. To see Chukwuma go from a work placement to gaining an internship with Esh only highlights the opportunities that we can provide to people who want to work in construction.”