How to start your career in construction

Emma Hawkins, Trainee Design Engineer

Emma attended a 12-week work experience programme in year 12. She's now studying a BSc in Construction Management and a Trainee Design Engineer at Northgate Hospital in Northumberland

What discipline are you currently working in?

Design Management

What are you studying?

BSc Construction Management. I completed an HNC & HND in Construction and the Built Environment first at college which will now provide advanced entry onto my University course to complete my degree.

How did you hear about the opportunity at Sir Robert McAlpine?

I completed a week of work experience in year 12 with SRM and I was made aware of a unique programme called PlanBEE.

What subjects did you take at school / A-level?

My A-levels were chosen based on my initial plan of going to study Architecture and included Geography, Chemistry and Product Design, however they are equally as relevant to my course now. Take subjects that you enjoy and are good at, you don’t always need to take Maths and Physics!

Prior to working at Sir Robert McAlpine, do you have any other work experience?

I got the opportunity to undertake three weeks of work experience through school with various companies, designed to give students a rounded view of the industry and the variety of roles. Since then, I have completed several four-month placements with a range of companies, working on multiple schemes in various sectors such as commercial, education, residential and healthcare. It is important to remember that experience counts for a lot in construction, so that you can try it out and tell a future employer in an interview what you learnt and enjoyed!

Tell us about your role

I support the project Design Manager in checking drawings that are produced by our Design Team – Architects, Structural/Civil Engineers, Building Services Engineers, Landscape Architects as well as subcontractors. If the drawings are not correct on paper, it is very unlikely that the work will be correct on site!

What does a typical day look like for you?

Those working on site will come across challenges which need answering before they can proceed with the work, so it is important that we can resolve these as quickly as possible with new information. It is important that I consider safety when reviewing drawings as the easiest way to minimise risk is to remove it from the design in the first place, while also considering regulations and standards. I attend regular meetings and design workshops in order to support the design team and design manager in agreeing areas of the design and considering the impact of changes, on site and in relation to the programme.

What does your future look like?

I will be working hard over the next couple of years to complete my Degree, after which I will turn my attention to becoming Chartered with The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). This will allow me to progress in the industry and work in roles of responsibility such as a Design Manager on a project.

How to start your career in construction

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