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Aspirational Alumni, Becky – International Women’s Day 2022

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Becky Sansum

Trainee Project Planner, Wates Construction
Construction Level 4 Higher National Certificate 

During my first year of A levels I decided to not go to university. Following this I decided to complete some work experience at a construction firm in London who work on projects with contract values of hundreds of million pounds. Although I wasn’t looking forward to it at the time I quickly realised there was so much more to this industry than the “it’s just laying bricks” mentality I had before and it helped me decide I wanted to pursue a career in construction.

Following this I had to spend time researching various companies that offer trainee schemes. I did this by looking on apprentice websites, thinking about what construction companies I had already heard of and attending careers events, in the end I applied for about 5 different contractors. My progress coach was the biggest help to me during the application process, he helped me write my CV, cover letters and did interview preparation with me and I ended up being success with all of my applications. Following this I did rounds of interviews and got invited to an assessment day at the head office for a company called Wates Group and 2 days later they offered me the job.

Wates is a family owned contractor that has many aspects to it such as engineering, building services and construction. My job role as a trainee project planner involves creating and working with programme to help deliver projects on time, contributing to method statements and logistic plans in collaboration with the site team and subcontractors, monitoring and reporting on progress and understanding the implications of changes to the sequence of the build and making changes where necessary and working on pre-qualifications and tenders to help win contracts. Since joining the company in January 2021 I have been exposed to numerous projects across the unit seeing a variety of work from schools, to prisons, to private commercial builds. The main project I work on now in located next to Cambridge business park and is a 7 storey office block with 3 retail units at ground floor with a contract value of approximately £30million (see photos below).

Along with my day job I also complete a level 4 national higher certification on construction which is a level 4 qualification and requires block release at college to complete. These weeks away have been some of the best times I’ve had since starting the job because everyone from the various business disciplines get together in London and it’s a great opportunity to socialise with other trainees and be slightly involved in that “uni experience” you can feel like you’re missing out on by going through the apprenticeship route. After the HNC I plan to go on to complete a degree in Construction management and gain my industry charterships, all of which is funded by the company.

Some of the major benefits of doing an apprenticeship are the money, the qualifications you gain without accumulating any debt and the career you get out of it. Don’t get me wrong, it takes a lot of self discipline to do the job as well as study but the long term gain is so worth the time that has to go into whilst you’re studying. I would encourage anyone to look into apprenticeships. The experience I’m gaining has put me so far ahead of others that will be coming into the industry in the next few years and taught me a lot about being part of team and how to conduct myself in a professional environment.

The best advice I can give anybody who is unsure about what to do post A level is do your research and see what’s out there! You can be really surprised with what alternative routes there are other than university and for me it’s the best decision I have ever made.