Case study

Assistant project manager — Hayley Johnston

Impressing her employer in a part-time job during her final year of university landed Hayley a graduate role in construction management

How did you get your job?

My efforts at university were recognised by a lecturer who nominated me for the Central Scotland branch of the Women in Property Students Awards. I was successful in winning this award and was approached by one of the judges who offered me a part-time job during my final year. I recently began working full time as an assistant project manager with the same company.

What's a typical working day like?

In project management, each project is unique and can require me to use many skills. I get to travel to diverse and interesting sites to carry out meetings and monitor progress. Working in construction management, you're often communicating with a variety of people from different professional backgrounds who can always help you learn something new.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Project management can be demanding at times, but being able to look back at the end of a project on what a team of people have achieved is really rewarding. One of my favourite moments has been seeing the look on school children's faces when we showed them some new classrooms we'd worked on - they were so excited.

What are the challenges?

In the construction industry each individual project will bring its own challenges, but I think that's what makes each day so interesting. What's important is that, when problems arise, you ask for help, understand the solution and remember how to resolve the problem if it happens again in the future.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My degree taught me a lot of relevant technical construction knowledge as well as the processes and planning techniques that have all become useful in many aspects of my job. Not only did the content of the course become relevant, but I've also been able to apply the time management, literacy skills and team-working techniques to my role. The whole university experience really prepared me for the realities of the working world.

Any words of advice for someone looking to get into construction management?

Try to get some on-site experience. More companies are now offering graduates placements over the summer and are keen to offer part-time roles to those people who are committed. Have a look on company websites or ask the careers service at your university.

Take advantage of any networking opportunities available. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Matrics events are great opportunities to make some industry connections or see if your university has an industry programme.

Finally, ask questions. I've found it's the best way to learn and to make sure you're getting the best out of any experience.

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