7% of graduates regret
choosing a construction-related degree. Make them
part of a brighter future.

Candice Homewood: LakeHouse

Graeme Manley: John Rowan & Partners

Joe Green: Mace

Matt Stafford: John Rowan & Partners

Matthew Globe: VINCI Facilities

Matthew Wright: Mace

Joe Green: Mace
Joe comes from a labouring background and has been learning about the management side to construction at university. He is just about to complete a 12 month placement at Mace and in September will return to university to finish off his Construction Management Degree.

1.What are the main things you have been doing while on placement at Mace?

I’ve been working on the British Museum World Conservation and Exhibition Centre, which is a £135 million construction management job. The main bulk of my work has been on the temporary accommodation package, which I have been managing with guidance from my line and project manager. I’ve also been involved in the procurement of other trade packages as well as some health and safety. I have been given some responsibility, whilst being supported through my team and the training scheme. Most importantly I have been learning all the time.

2.What have you enjoyed the most while working at Mace?

You have a real sense of pride while working for Mace because of their strong reputation, and that in itself means my whole placement has been really enjoyable. It has been particularly satisfying seeing our temporary accommodation right the way through procurement to delivery. It’s a mini project in itself and whilst we have had our difficulties, it has been a great experience. It’s been great to gain exposure to the processes within the industry and it is really satisfying seeing the end result when everything is finished.

3.What has been the biggest challenge while working at Mace?

The challenge is dealing with real money and making decisions that have consequences both commercially and have an impact on programme. You’re making decisions that actually make a difference, rather than dealing with theory at university.

4.What has the placement helped with?

Although I’ve been in the industry as a labourer for a few years, I’ve never been involved with the management side and that’s why I went to university. However, I have learnt more in my placement year than I have while at university. Before starting my placement I thought I had a reasonable grasp of things, but really I didn’t have a clue. It has helped identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as further developing interpersonal skills, such as communicating with different people that work on the project. My placement has allowed me to understand how theory translates into practice and also how sometimes the theory doesn’t really apply at all. Ultimately, the placement has been invaluable and I would recommend one to everyone.

5.Did you find it hard to get a placement?

It was difficult at first, I knew I had to be strategic in my approach and I identified companies whose ethos I liked. That was a long and difficult process as there weren’t many placements out there. There were lots of speculative applications and lots of knocking on closed doors.

6.Did your friends find it hard to get placements?

Out of a class of 40, approximately 20 people applied for placements and only about 11 ended up getting one. People found it a quite a hard process to go through while studying.

7.What’s your general view of graduate employment at the moment?

I don’t think it’s very good; there are less graduate schemes and more graduates coming out with the same qualifications. You really need to differentiate yourself from the crowd. However, I still think the construction industry is one of the better places to be a graduate, I think the career prospects are still there. Mace has also taken on a lot of graduates so it does look like its turning, hopefully.

8.What could companies do more to help?

I think more companies should have structured programmes to make sure students are getting the right experience, in the right areas. I also think it would be a good idea to have more companies actively involved in universities; running site visits, workshops and taking guest lectures. For example if I’m doing a module in health and safety, it would be great to have someone from a site who deals with that on a day-to-day basis. If a company gets involved in university life then you make that company attractive to students, that way you can create competition. The biggest thing a company can do is interact and to become involved in student education, any way they can.

9.What advice would you give to students?

Be strategic and take a lot of time on the application. Don’t underestimate the importance of the little things, like spelling and researching the company. Don’t spread yourself to thin, companies will be able to spot a generic application a mile off.

10.Where do you see yourself in five years time?

It would be great to go back to Mace when I graduate next year; I now know their processes and have a foundation to build on. I’d like to see myself as a permanent package manager on a construction project with my own packages to run.
For further information:
John Rowan and Partners, Craven House
40 Uxbridge Road, Ealing, London W5 2BS
E contact@thepledge.org.uk
T +44 (0) 20 8567 6995