The Architecture & Construction sector encompasses a range of different roles and positions, as the process of designing and constructing a building or development requires many different people applying their individual expertise. This means graduates can enter the sector from a variety of backgrounds and go into roles like Civil Engineering, Surveying, Site Management, Transportation Planning, Big Management and Architecture. The work is both challenging and rewarding, with the potential to see very big results.
Many of the roles in this sector require specific degrees. For example, to be a fully qualified Architect requires five years studying, followed by two years in a professional office. Construction degrees can offer a head start in areas such as Project Management or Site Management, and Architecture & Construction also has a lot of crossover with sectors such as Engineering, Energy & Utilities, and the Environmental sector, and requires similar qualifications.
How to Get a Job in Architecture & Construction
The range of different areas in this sector all have their own specific requirements:
Surveying offers options for a fulfilling and dynamic career. It is the first point of call in any construction process, and is fundamental to any success in the sector. Every element of a construction or architectural project originates in the measuring and assessing of space and land conducted by the Surveyor.
Graduates interested in pursuing a career in Surveying must have excellent maths skills and be meticulous in their work. Figures and measurements need to be precise and exact in order to avoid problems down the line. A degree in this field is an excellent start, and candidates may also want to find some work experience to make their application stand out.
Civil Engineering requires a BEng and a passion for the field. Candidates need to have a flawless grasp of maths and physics, and graduates should aim to get work experience if possible. Graduates may also want to develop a particular speciality, such as specific modules undertaken during their degree, in order to bring a unique set of skills to their application.
A key part of getting a job in Architecture is having a top-notch portfolio. Employers want to see unique style, high quality designs and a range of ideas. Candidates should aim to build a portfolio which demonstrates clear and progressive thinking, clarity of objective, and a good balance between creativity and real-world practicality, all done with a professional and effective presentation. Graduates should have learned most of the skills required at university, and their portfolio is their chance to show those skills in practice.
In addition to an excellent portfolio, graduates pursuing a career in the competitive field of Architecture would do well to gain as much work experience as possible prior to applying for full-time work.
Site Manager or Transportation Manager
Graduates interested in being a Site Manager or Transportation Manager will need to demonstrate superb organisational skills. They must be able to effectively organise and motivate a workforce to detailed time schedules. Managers in these fields must also be able to communicate effectively with other departments involved on a project, such as Surveyors, Architects and Civil Engineers. Clarity of communication is essential to maintain a smoothly run site or project. Graduates would do well to provide examples of time spent running societies and events.
Site Managers also need excellent problem-solving skills and they must be able to look past obstacles to see the bigger picture. Candidates should understand how sites work and be able to anticipate problems in advance, which requires a combination of experience in the field and lateral thinking. Graduates can demonstrate their problem-solving skills by providing examples of difficulties they have overcome in their academic or working lives.
Bid Management teams are responsible for assembling bids and pitching proposals to potential clients. Candidates must be able to understand the client's goals in order be effective in this area. Customer service skills are important, as is confidence and creativity in pitches. Bid Managers need the communication skills to talk to Architects about client demands, as well as the research skills to find out everything they can about the particular contract. Big Management teams are vital to the long-term success of companies in Architecture & Construction, and candidates pursuing these roles need to show strong customer service and sales skills. Graduates should outline any time spent working closely with customers, such as work in retail or hospitality.
Architecture & construction Case Studies
Be eager to learn and don't be frightened. As a business, our graduates get quite a high amount of exposure to Directors from day one.
The Employer - Laura Lavin (Employment Development Advisor - The Miller Group)
Name: Laura Lavin
Job Title: Employment Development Advisor
University: Edinburgh College
Course: HR Management
What competencies do you like to see in candidates?
The main competencies that we look for and assess in our interview process are organisational skills, planning, communication and listening. We like to hear a little bit about them achieving success, what work experience they have gained, what they are most proud of along with their motivation and drive. This feeds into where they see themselves in the future and shows us what their career aspirations are.
Can you talk us through the application process?
We ask graduates to write a 250 word narrative on why they would be ideal to work for The Miller Group, along with a copy of their CV. They are then added to our database where we conduct an initial sift of the applications. We then invite successful candidates to complete an online verbal reasoning test. Depending on the result, we invite them for a telephone interview which usually lasts around 30 minutes. This is where we confirm their application details, explain in more detail our graduate frameworks and ask them some competency based interview questions.
For the Regional Technical Graduate framework, if they're successful in their telephone interview, their CV and details are passed on to the relevant Director for their preferred geographical area (if possible) and, depending on their view, they will be invited to participate in an hour long face-to-face general and behavioural interview as well as being asked to prepare a 5 minute presentation on a topic of our choosing.
What is the most common mistake you see in an application that leads to candidates being rejected?
We do get candidates who don't follow the instructions. We ask them to write a 250 word narrative about themselves and why they want to work for The Miller Group but there are a significant number of applications where this is not completed. Badly laid out CVs are never a good start with spelling and grammatical errors following a close second.
What is the main piece of advice you would give a graduate entering the sector?
Candidates need to show an interest in the industry and the company they're applying for. One of the main things for us is demonstrating that you have done your research on The Miller Group. We are impressed when someone can demonstrate they have a basic understanding of our business and not just reading from the website!
While we don't disregard candidates who do not have any work experience, it is beneficial if you can get some. It does not necessarily have to be related to the industry but shows that you are willing to gain different experiences.
Within our business, graduates gain a high amount of exposure to our Senior Management Teams and we encourage them to constructively challenge current processes and try to make every day a 'school day'. We want them to know that there's no such thing as a silly question.
What's the main challenge graduates face when they start?
Some of the Group Business graduates struggle with the logistics. It can be a challenge in managing their placements as they are required to be UK mobile for two years and may have to move every six months. Whilst we give them each others contact details prior to them starting as well as details of our current graduates, starting a new job in a new location is always going to be challenging!
Where do you see the company in two years' time?
The Miller Group is benefiting from an improving external market, a strong leadership team and a solid financial base. All our graduates from 2011 are now in full time positions and we are confident that graduate recruitment will continue to be a key element of our talent pipeline.
If you weren't Training and Recruitment Manager, what would you be?
I'd quite like to be organising concerts and events for a big celebrity, ideally for Robbie Williams.
The Employee - Craig Orr (Group Business Graduate - The Miller Group)
Name: Craig Orr
Course: Architectural Design
Graduation Year: 2012
How did you find your graduate job in Architecture and Construction sector?
I studied Architectural Design at University where I did my placement in a design department with another home builder, Mactaggart and Mickel. When I started looking for graduate jobs there wasn't a great deal out there, so I worked at the Energy Saving Trust for a year which proved to be a good experience where I gained key transferable skills and experience which I was able to demonstrate when I decided to apply for The Miller Group.
Why do you think you were successful at The Miller Group?
I was able to demonstrate through the application process that the skills I had gained from studying Architecture, my work placement and my work since University were all transferable. Being able to convey information clearly is critical and this came over in my CV, telephone interview and the Assessment Centre. Just being myself helped too!
What do you actually do?
I started off with Miller Construction working with Energy Consultancy and Facilities Management where I initially spent a lot of time taking in information, going to meetings, taking notes and asking questions. By the end of the placement I had produced various business materials including a new Corporate Responsibility Action Plan for that area of the business.
My next placement involved supporting the planning, management and costing of various lifecycle/small works jobs across 30 schools in Glasgow. This meant I also had to effectively manage both Miller operatives and various subcontractors which proved to be a great experience in actual management techniques.
For my third placement, I have recently joined Miller Developments which will give me the chance to get involved in projects at varying stages, from the purchase of land through to the sale of a finished development.
What skills do you need?
You need to be organised. The nature of the graduate scheme means you work with a lot of people and it's important that you're managing your own workload as well as prioritising what you need to deliver for others so that you don't fall behind on any of your projects.
Showing some initiative to raise my profile (for the right reasons!) throughout the business is also very important. There might be times when work may not always be piled on your desk, so if you see something interesting that you want to get involved in you have to go and ask about it.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is the variety of the work you have the opportunity to get involved in and the time scales involved in the various projects. You might be working on a project that is not going to be realised for a couple of months (or even years) then the next you're working on something that needs delivered by the end of the day. This is particularly true in Miller Developments, where I am working in at the moment. One day I could be finishing up a project and the next day I could be on site at the start of another project or looking to submit planning applications.
What is the worst thing about your job?
The worst thing about my job is moving around. Due to the nature of the graduate framework it might be that you are only spending 6 months in a specific location. While it has definitely been a worthwhile experience and you are given support from other graduates and the business, it can sometimes be frustrating to not know where you might be in 6 months time.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I'd really like to stay with The Miller Group as I think it's a great company to work for and when I've spoken to Miller Group employees who have worked elsewhere they agree. I'd like to progress to a management role and hopefully help future graduates.
What advice would you give to graduates applying to The Miller Group?
I would tell them to be confident in their ability, they need to have the confidence in themselves to know they're good enough to fulfil that job. Also, I'd recommend they don't undersell themselves in anyway. Don't make assumptions about what interviewers know about you and make sure you have a list of the key information you want to get across either in the application form or at the interviews.
If you want to find out more about graduate jobs with The Miller Group, please take a look at their minisite.