Case study

Assistant planner — Jolanta Mitchell

After gaining a first class honours degree in construction management, Jolanta has embarked on a career in construction planning. Discover what a typical day in her role is like

How did you get your job in planning?

I graduated with a degree in construction management from the University of East London (UEL) and started looking for a job as soon as I got my results.

I applied for several jobs and had an invitation to attend an interview for six out of ten applications. I'd specified in my CV that I wanted to be employed as an assistant/trainee construction planner or quantity surveyor, and it took me around six weeks to come across a relevant job position as an assistant planner. I was successful at interview and now work for one of the biggest construction companies in the UK.

What's a typical working day like?

My main day-to-day duties typically involve assisting senior planners in marking the progresses on site, attending post and mid tenders' meetings, creating progress reports and resource calculation.

How relevant is your degree?

My job is 100% relevant to what I was studying at university. When I joined the company, I was asked to perform tasks such as calculating take-offs and working with software such as CAD, Excel or MS Project. I also needed to be confident in health and safety issues and have experience of sequencing works on site and creating method statements. These areas were all covered during my degree at UEL so I didn't have any problems in understanding the requirements.

What do you like about working in construction?

Construction is a very challenging and developing industry. As the industry continues to grow and apply new technologies, young professionals are constantly encouraged to express new ideas. At this time I feel part of the strong movement towards improving the industry.

What are the challenges?

Expectations and standards are very high in the construction industry, which can be challenging to fulfill.

What are your career aims?

I'm doing what I love to do and I hope in five years' time I will have the knowledge and experience needed for further career growth.

What's your advice to other students studying building and construction?

My advice is to study hard and do your best at university. Some people say that marks don't matter, which isn't true. I finished with first class honours and also won the Dean's prize, and having such achievements gave me the confidence to look for my preferred job.