Graduate Experience: being a woman in the construction industry

Ellie Carswell
Challenging the convention - starting out as a young woman in the construction industry.

When I first considered a career in construction, the initial reaction from family and friends was somewhat mixed. Having graduated with a degree in French and Italian, many questioned my knowledge and worried about my lack of experience. However, despite being bought a pink hard hat and hi vis, doubts disappeared as they realised my genuine enthusiasm for wanting to tackle a very male-dominated industry.

I remember coming home from my assessment centre with Faithful+Gould feeling a huge sense of pride for holding my own against some tough competition, who all clearly had a lot more technical knowledge than I did. Despite this, I walked away knowing that I could see myself working in this industry.

Why the construction industry?

You’re probably wondering what sparked this huge career change in the first place. I was in my final year at university and found myself not wanting to pursue a career with languages, unlike my peers. I knew I didn’t want to teach or translate papers in solitude from a computer screen. For some reason, I was limiting myself to jobs that ‘typically’ fit those with language skills. Then I thought, what job is typical? And why on earth do I want to be typical? I wanted to push boundaries, take on new challenges and make a difference to society as part of an integrated team.

There’s never a day the same in construction and this type of variety encourages you to think for yourself and question what can be done better.

I perused website after website, read prospectus after prospectus and spoke to tutor after tutor until I stopped looking at the job title itself and started assessing the skills needed for that job. It was at this moment that I realised my skill set would greatly suit a project management role. After searching for various related roles, I was mildly interested in opportunities in IT but being mildly interested wasn’t enough for me. I researched alternative industries and found it - the construction industry. This industry could not only offer me job variety and international opportunity but would allow me to progress in a career surrounded by a completely diverse workforce, developing as a professional alongside professionals.

I am now almost two months into my career as a graduate project manager at Faithful+Gould and could not have made a better decision. I don’t get the dread on a Sunday evening for Monday morning, but rather excitement for a new day. There’s never a day the same in construction and this type of variety encourages you to think for yourself and question what can be done better.

The future of the industry is certainly bright, and it makes me proud to be part of a changing movement where women are doing the same jobs as men (and rightly so!). I can’t wait to share my experience with other young women to challenge convention even further, but for now I think I’ll leave the pink hard hat at home!

Written by