Case study

Quantity surveyor — Callum Riley

Preparation, planning and effective time management have been essential to Callum's success as a quantity surveyor

How did you get your job?

I studied for a BSc Hons Quantity Surveying degree at the Leeds Beckett University School of Built Environment & Engineering, graduating in 2018 with first class honours.

I applied for the role of quantity surveyor with AECOM through their website. I went through their graduate recruitment process - this involved passing a questionnaire and situational judgement tests online, before attending a face-to-face, technical interview. 

What's a typical working day like?

Working as a consultant, my work is mainly office-based. I have two main projects (that are now at post-contract stage), so my day typically revolves around these. I can be involved in anything from visiting sites and attending project meetings to performing monthly valuations and generally managing commercial risks.

Outside of my two main projects, I undertake a wide range of activities. These include undertaking feasibility estimates, creating cost plans and providing commercial support to other AECOM departments (including architects, engineers and planners). Recently, I've also written reports on behalf of AECOM on subjects such as market conditions and recent changes within the industry, as well as assisting senior colleagues in writing articles for industry media outlets.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety - one day I can be assisting our infrastructure team as they work on a highways project, and sat in a meeting with architects looking at the interior design of a student accommodation tower the next. For me, the diversity of my day-to-day activities keeps things interesting.

What are the challenges?

Meeting deadlines can be challenging. Due to the fast-paced nature of the industry, situations regularly arise where a quick response is necessary and all other work needs to be dropped.

How relevant is your degree?

My degree is extremely relevant. The BSc Hons Quantity Surveying course is specific to the quantity surveying profession and the course's modular breakdown provided me with the fundamental knowledge required to complete my day-to-day tasks.

Although not every module was always specific to quantity surveying, it's important to have a holistic knowledge of the industry that you can build from.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

In five years' time I aim to have gained my RICS accreditation and have moved up AECOM's corporate ladder.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Apply to graduate schemes that you're interested in as soon as they go live - don't procrastinate.
  • Most companies will begin graduate recruitment around the same dates each year (usually around September and October). Identify specific dates and then ensure you have everything in place to apply once the schemes go live. In my experience, companies (within the construction industry) tend to employ on a first-come, first-served basis, provided you meet their recruitment criteria and pass all of the necessary tests.
  • Once in your job, be organised. Keep your diary up to date and be aware of your upcoming commitments. Pre-plan your day every day, to make sure you achieve all of your required outputs.

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