My Placement with Kier Construction: Laura Spencer, Interior Architecture and Design

Laura Spencer is on placement at Kier Construction as a Design Manager. This is the perfect placement for Laura as an Interior Architecture and Design student! Laura talks about her experiences of finding, securing and being on placement.

How did you find your placement role?

I found my placement role through asking friends and family if they knew anyone working within the same or similar work industry. I was lucky that my mum’s friend knew someone who worked for Kier Construction and passed on their name and email to me.

The company were advertising summer placements, year placements and graduate schemes on their website. I sent my email to the contact and I was invited into the office for an interview which lead to the Head of Design offering me the job there and then!

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Christmas meal with my line manager (Head of Design) and other colleagues.  

How many applications did you make? (approx.)

I only applied to one company as I received an immediate response to have an interview with them. The interview was arranged soon after the phone call and I was offered a placement on the spot. The whole process was easy and quick for me!

How did Creative Careers support you in your placement search?

Creative Careers were very helpful in the process of getting my placement. All the information I needed was on Moodle under the Creative Careers tab, this included CV examples, how to prepare for an interview, what to expect from a placement and so on. I could pop into the office or send an email whenever I needed any help/advice and they were always supportive.

Who are they and what do they do?

Kier Construction is part of the Kier Company which is a leading property, residential, construction and services group. They invest in builds, maintains and renew places where we work, live and play. They operate across a range of sectors including defence, education, housing, industrials, power, transport and utilities.

Which department do you work in?  

I work in the Design and Build department. This is where all the Design Managers work.

What is your role? What are your main duties, tasks and responsibilities?

My role is a Placement Design Manager. I’m working closely with one of the Senior Design Managers with the projects he has been assigned to. I also support the rest of the department with tasks that they need help with doing. I attend different types of meetings, visit sites and go on courses to help my training. I have been given my own desk, laptop, phone and space in the office, they treat me like I’m one of the team.

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My own little corner in the office.

What are the benefits of being on a placement?

I’m always learning new things to do with construction which I didn’t learn during my first two years. I’m hearing a lot of the terminology which will help me with writing my dissertation as well as give me ideas for final design ideas. I’m working on projects from the tender phase through to construction which has enabled me to see buildings in the process of being built as opposed to just writing about it.

Another benefit is that I’m being paid to work here and after studying at university for 2 years without a job it’s a nice change. My placement is treated like a real job which has been an eye opener for me of what it’s like outside of university.

What have you most enjoyed?

I think that one of the best things about my placement is the staff. I have met a lot of amazing people from all different backgrounds; people from in the office, site workers, clients, consultants and so on. Not only am I learning from my job, I’m learning from the people who work here. They have given me lots of support and advice from their own experiences helping me in my decisions and future career.

Not to mention the fun social nights out and events!

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Ping pong table present to everyone from the boss of the office, it’s not all seriousness!

What have you least enjoyed?

Sometimes there isn’t much work for me to do which isn’t the best, although, it’s not too bad as it has given me some time to start my dissertation ready for third year. I have had time to organise myself and work on my time management which was something I wasn’t very good at during my first two years.                                                               

What concerns did you have before going on placement?

My concerns before going on my placement were what they were expecting from me. I made sure that I asked if there was anything I could do to prepare myself for my job when they offered me the place.

What advice would you give to someone concerned about doing a placement?

My advice would be to talk out any concerns with your tutor or the people in Creative Careers. That’s what they are there for!

What new skills have you developed?

I have gained new skills in software I didn’t even know existed! I have also developed many skills simply by being in the workplace, such as communication and presentation skills.

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On site with the Project Manager and Design Manager working through the model of the project.

What training have you done?  

I am very much learning on the go. To me this is good because I am taught what to do and then straight away getting on with the task, putting my knowledge into practice. There are plenty of training courses available to me if I wish to request them.

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BIM workshop training for the site team and myself.

What have been the highlights so far?

The whole experience has been a highlight, I honestly wouldn’t change anything.

Has the placement helped you with your career decisions?

Absolutely! Before I started my placement, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated. I knew there were so many different jobs available but I was always unsure. Since working in a professional environment, I now have a clear idea of what career I want and this has motivated me to do my absolute best for my final year.

What are your plans for after your degree?

My plan is to return to Kier Construction as a Graduate Design Manager.

What advice would you give to students who aren’t sure whether to do a placement or not?

Being honest, I didn’t want to do a placement. The whole idea just didn’t appeal to me and I thought it was more hassle that it was worth…but I have benefited from being on a placement in more ways than I ever imagined. I can’t stress enough that you do a placement year, not only for the work experience but it could be your potential career path or the window to job opportunities which wouldn’t be available to people who go straight to final year.

What advice would you give to your fellow students in year 1 and year 2 regarding their placement search?

It can be a tedious thing to do but don’t give up! I was lucky to find a placement as quick and as easy as I did but I know people who had applied to lots of places and attended many interviews to get theirs. All I can say is that it’s honestly all worth it in the long run. Listen to all the advice given to you and make sure you make the right decision for yourself.

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