“I believe that the best way to learn is through experience!”
Aggie Vernon-Smith, trainee building surveyor, is currently on an industrial placement at Gleeds. She will spend 1 year on a structured programme working within Gleeds’ building surveying team in the commercial, education and residential sectors, before returning to Nottingham Trent University to complete her 4 year course in BSc (Hons) Building Surveying. Aggie also recently won the Midlands Women in Property student award and will compete against 11 other regional finalists in London in September. Here she tells us a little more about her placement, and what advice she would give to others considering a career in construction.
What made you decide to take a year out from university to complete a work placement?
I believe that the best way to learn is through experience. My placement year at Gleeds is providing me with opportunity to improve my skills, specific to the subject I am studying, as well as the ability to apply the knowledge I gained during the first two years of university. It has created the perfect environment for me to increase my understanding of the industry, allowing me to make more informed decisions regarding future career choices.
Why did you choose a career in construction?
I have always perceived construction to be a challenging, but exciting sector which is extremely rewarding, especially as it often provides tangible evidence of the diligence and commitment it calls for. Construction however is still very much perceived to be a male-dominated sector. In my opinion the most effective way to encourage others into the industry is to lead by example and therefore, my aim is to promote and encourage diversity and equality in the industry. Construction offers huge potential for growth through its vast array of career paths and roles, which are far too often overlooked by women who don’t realise they are available!
What does a typical week at Gleeds look like for you?
My role as a building surveyor means every week is different. Every day is a challenge in its own way and also a great learning opportunity. My responsibilities keep me on my toes and allow me to put my technical knowledge and knowhow to the test on a daily basis. My role also relies heavily on good communication skills as speaking to people and attending client/contractor meetings are also a daily occurrence. I am usually out on site for at least 50% of my working week, carrying out surveys or overseeing construction works.
You recently won the student award with Women in Property, what advice would you give other young women looking to enter into a career in construction?
First of all I would say do not be discouraged by the stigma of construction being a male-dominated environment! Explore the roles and opportunities available in order to establish what it is that you see yourself doing, and what would be the best match for both your interests and skill set. Reach out to women who are already working in the industry to gain some insight knowledge and invaluable advice - LinkedIn is brilliant for that! Be prepared for the hard work ahead, but believe in yourself and look forward to a lifelong, exciting career!
Trainee Building Surveyor