Autumn 2017

“10 things we learned on work experience” by Max and Danny

We were really impressed with students Danny (17) and Max (16) who joined us over the summer assisting our project managers, surveyors and Architects. Following their stint in the professional world we asked them to summarise 10 insights. An interesting perspective, and some tips, from the next generation.

1. Architects do more than we thought!
Danny: Previously I had the impression that being an Architect involved designing buildings and having to be pretty good at maths. However, I also found that Architects need to have an in-depth understanding of construction methods, materials and how to draw up intricate floor plans and elevations – a much larger amount of technical detail then I appreciated. They need to know how to design a building fit for purpose that also meets the client’s needs.

Max: All building projects need to consider the end user before construction even begins. Discussions need to be had and a proper thought process needs to take place for everything - from how residents will take the bins out to where they will put their bikes.

2. YouTube is a great work resource
Max: In the roles I undertook at Churchill Hui you need good knowledge of Microsoft Office and architecture programmes such as DWG TrueView 2018. You might need to ask for formal training on some aspects but you can start off by watching a few YouTube videos for some really helpful (free) tutorials.

3. Industry myths need debunking
Danny: My original opinion of the construction industry has changed since work experience. I have learned that throughout the years, many aspects of construction have altered and it has been very interesting debunking the myths and stereotypes such as “women can’t/don’t work in construction” or that building sites are “rough and ready” – from what I saw, there are a lot of skilled, professional tradespeople working collaboratively on site. Through my experience at Churchill Hui I have had my eyes opened.

4. Take a phone, notepad and pen wherever you go
Max: Make notes when someone is telling you anything important, explaining something to you or giving you complicated instructions as you don’t want to have to ask people to repeat themselves (and there’s a lot to take in!). It’s always good to document what you see on site by taking photos or videos so that you can look back at them. You’ll be glad you did.

5. With the best will in the world, plans can go off course
Danny: Whilst visiting construction sites and new builds, I learned an important lesson. Projects of any scale do not go as smoothly as everyone would like them to all of the time. I didn’t realise the number of factors which could delay certain phases of jobs. Both during and after work experience I have become to appreciate certain roles within jobs and the amount of planning involved.

6. Collaboration (and coffee) pay off
Max: Make the effort to get to know your colleagues; they will be able to offer support and advice which is important when you are just starting out. The industry needs a collaborative approach if projects are going to be successful so you should get to know the project team as a whole. It always helps if you offer to make a round of coffee.

Danny: I thought that working in an office would be slightly boring. However, from my work experience I have learned that communicating and interacting with colleagues in the office was one of the most valuable aspects of working life.

7. Plan your journey to site, every time!
Max: Leave extra time to get to site meetings as you can’t predict traffic/public transport. If you’re driving, ask about parking in advance as it is often limited on site. Make sure you have a route planned, especially for sites that are not easily accessible, and remember that new postcodes might not be recognised by Sat Nav!

8. Diversity of experience is invaluable
Danny: During work experience I learned something new every day, not just from Architects but project managers and surveyors too. No two people had the same career path leading up to their current profession, and practical experience seems as important as academic studies in the construction industry. Learning from colleagues’ experience is invaluable.

9. Don’t forget your PPE kit
Max: It’s highly unlikely you’ll be allowed on site without PPE which can cause all sorts of delays. Site may be able to provide spares but possibly not in your size – especially if you have small feet! In the professional world, you can’t make excuses to a teacher who’ll let you off, and your colleagues or client won’t be impressed if meetings are delayed because you’ve forgotten something.

10. Work experience is really useful
Danny: I think everyone should try to get as much work experience as possible. Not only does it look good on your CV, but for me it has clarified many things I was unsure about. Finding out what you like and dislike about aspects of work can help you make a better informed career decision, including further education choices.

We could all learn something from these budding stars and we are pleased they found their work experience useful. We wish Danny and Max all the best with their A-levels and future careers.

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