Graduate Development Programme: Project Management

Laura Hamer-West
As a recent starter on our graduate development programme, I would encourage others to get involved, no matter what your background is.

I did not begin my career in the construction industry in project management (PM). Initially I studied for a building surveying (BS) degree followed by a masters degree in sociology. During that time, the more I learnt about the construction industry and various related disciplines the more I wanted to explore my potential career options. I was intrigued by the type of work that PM's were involved in, which I felt better suited my skills. I was excited at the prospect of getting involved in the various aspects of the role, such as programming and commercial management, and I knew that the challenges that this would present would enable me to thrive.

When I first began to research switching from BS to PM, I was not even sure it was possible. However, it immediately became clear that the PM profession is incredibly diverse and that many people, like me, are drawn into it from other parts of the construction sector. The PM team at Faithful+Gould's Bristol office is a perfect example of this as no one has come straight into PM from university: two were non-cognates, four were quantity surveyors and one was an engineer, in addition to me as a former BS. It is a great environment to work in as we all bring a slightly different perspective to the role due to our broad experience within construction.

It’s a great environment to work in as we all bring a slightly different perspective to the role due to our broad experience within construction.

I applied for the role of graduate PM with Faithful+Gould at the end of 2012. I already knew the top reputation of the firm, the types and sizes of projects which they were dealing with and I could see the amount of attention that they invested in their graduates. For example, they have developed a structural Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) training programme with 'mock' assessments being undertaken to ensure graduates successfully achieve chartership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

This is supported by a wealth of study material available online, along with typical APC questions to prepare for the final assessment. In our office, the graduates have set up a lunchtime study group which meets every month to go through set APC questions. This is really invaluable as I have gradually got use to the style of APC assessment questioning. The company has consistently achieved a high pass rate for graduates' year-on-year.

I get considerable support on my APC and the other members of my team are always willing to help me learn.

So far my experience as a graduate PM has lived up to expectations. I get considerable support on my APC and the other members of my team are always willing to help me learn. I have been given the opportunity to work across a full range of sectors including education, prison and nuclear, which has added a real interest and variety as well as providing breadth in terms of APC competencies. 

Becoming a PM was the right thing for me. I have come back into the construction industry with a renewed vigour and ambition to be successful in what I do. I am aiming to sit my APC in spring 2015 and I know that I will be supported all of the way by the company. I am now incredibly excited for the future.