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“You should always be doing something. There is never an excuse to be doing nothing”

The aim of this blog is to creatively express and share my passion for civil engineering with anyone who may be interested. The idea of this first post is simply to introduce myself and give you an idea of who I am.

I decided to start this blog because I have always enjoyed writing. I like to manipulate words and sentences, and I enjoy trying to put them together in ways which allow them to flow seamlessly and engage the reader. During my time at primary school I was a regular receiver of our “Writer of the Week” award and even wrote a short play in year 4 – it wasn’t Hamlet but it was something.

Throughout the life of this blog, you will come across posts sharing any interesting examples of civil engineering I encounter in everyday life, and maybe a few favourites which are not local to me. You may get a few more general bits about my student life and such but my intention is to keep it focused on civil engineering. I will also be detailing anything I do which will contribute to what I will call my “preparatory” professional development and my year in industry, when the time comes. Hopefully, if I manage to keep the blog alive long enough, I will share with you my initial professional development upon graduation, and if longer yet, my continuing professional development once in industry. But for now, it’s probably best I keep it simple and focus on the present.

Growing up, my sister and I would often hear our mother say:

“You should always be doing something. There is never an excuse to be doing nothing.”

We were raised with an attitude that doing enough is never enough, and this has become more evident in recent times, given how competitive the graduate job market has become. Nowadays, simply obtaining a degree is far from enough, and employers look for candidates with wider experiences, who offer a more rounded skill set and “stand out from the crowd”. Throughout my whole childhood my parents made sure I was always doing something to develop myself, and at the age of four they had me go through a LAMDA Introductory examination.

They would often encourage me to write book reports in my spare time and sometimes even recipes. Not so I could become a writer, but because they recognised and wanted me to understand that being able to evaluate what I have studied or produced, and being able to explain my opinions or methods clearly and in a structured manner were important skills, both for life and later on in the working world. I would also use family, community and school events to heavily involve myself in public speaking, not so I could become a politician, but because they recognised that public speaking requires confidence, the ability to present yourself clearly, and the ability to communicate your ideas to your audience, which are skills used in everyday life and even more so in employment. My sister and I decided that starting a blog while studying for my degree would be a good way to continue this development, while documenting my professional activity and also strengthening my professional profile thus, Above Ground Level was born.

Essentially, this is what Above Ground Level means. Doing more. Emerging from the entry level and undertaking work on oneself, so as not to simply remain there. It is a metaphor for personal and professional development. I tell people that my career started on my first day of university. Of course I’m here for my degree, but in the grand scheme of things it’s just a stepping stone to a rewarding career in a dynamic industry. University is my ground level, and anything I can do or use while here which will help me develop professionally and give me a head start, I will, now and not later because, why not?

I decided to start this blog because I have always enjoyed writing.  It is the one thing that has come naturally to me ever since I could and I would even go so far as to say it is my talent. I’m not claiming to be an excellent writer, as there is probably a lot for me to learn and a lot of development I can make, but everybody knows what they are good and bad at, and writing is definitely something which comes as the former, for me.

Now you might wonder why on earth I chose to study something so technical like civil engineering, if I’m here waffling on about how much I enjoy writing. Naturally I don’t want talk too much in the first post, so I’ll leave that until later. Hopefully if I’m able to strike the right study-life balance, this will be only the first of many more posts to come in the future, but we’ll see how that goes. 😅

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