Helen Taaffe

Junior Planner, Mercury Engineering

Degree subject BSc Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin (2009); MSc Project Management, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School (2010)
Job title Junior Planner
Employer Mercury Engineering

Mercury is an international company that gives its employees the opportunity to travel and work on sites throughout the world. This international outlook was a factor that really appealed to me when I was applying for my first graduate job.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of competition for the graduate scheme. I was invited along for a first interview and then called back for a second round with the Head of Planning – now my boss – and a member of HR. I was subsequently offered the position of Junior Planner. This is actually the first time they’ve had a Junior Planner at Mercury.

My working environment is completely different from college: my first time on site was a bit of a shock to the system! It’s so fast-paced and you’re on the go constantly; but I adapted quickly and now I’m used to it I prefer it to time in the office. It’s nice to be working set hours now and a relief not to have to worry about studying for exams well into the night.

My job involves supervising, scheduling and monitoring the progress of site builds. Each day I'm on site to see how a project is coming along; then I’ll prepare progress reports. Currently I'm scheduling the build for an upgrade of a fabrication facility in Leixlip.

I love how each project brings together engineers of all disciplines. I'm interacting with different people every day. We're always working to very tight deadlines so it can be stressful and it’s still a bit daunting at times because I'm learning, but I'm gaining know-how and confidence every day. I'm supported by a mentor at Mercury and I attend regular training weeks with other graduates, which really helps. We’re preparing to give presentations to the board in September; it's a scary prospect, but presenting is an invaluable skill in planning.

Advice for graduates

Be persistent and patient when applying. Starting in any new job is nerve-wracking, but remember: you’ve been chosen for a reason. Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone; it’s how you’ll learn new skills.

Helen Taaffe was interviewed for gradireland Engineering 2012.