The QS apprentice
What does your role involve?
I currently work as a trainee QS within the transport sector at Cyril Sweett and I am seconded into a client’s office but I have also gained experience in the retail sector of the business. My current duties are specific to an estimating assistant, which include varied tasks such as measurement, estimating, change control, cost reporting, updating the estimation database software and training other colleagues on the database system.
What made you decide to apply to CSTT?
I decided to apply to CSTT as the combination of practical and academic learning really appealed to me. The apprenticeship allows me to gain practical experience as a QS but at the same time gives me the opportunity to undertake academic training. The personal help from CSTT itself is very reassuring. If I am ever in need of advice they are always willing to help and support.
I believe that at the end of my training scheme I will have gained some excellent work experience and will have a significantly better skills CV compared to that of a full time graduate.
Did you have any previous experience of the industry?
My brother-in-law is a senior mechanical and electrical cost manager at Northcroft in London. He himself qualified via CSTT and therefore was able to give me a good insight as to what to expect in terms of my apprenticeship as well as providing me with some insight about the industry. It was through him that I contacted CSTT.
What do you like about your job?
It is quite sociable with social interaction with both the client and other members of the team and interaction with my head office. I constantly have to use my inter-personal skills as I am required to liaise with a range of people. The work is also very team orientated which allows me to ask questions as well as providing me with the opportunity to interact with highly experienced colleagues, whilst still leaving me able to be individualistic in the parts of work I undertake myself.
As I am currently training, I am doing a lot of support work for the team around, which at times, can be a little monotonous but is necessary and you have to expect this being a trainee. My support role is all part of my learning curve and I am gaining useful tips and techniques reviewing and checking work done by more senior members of the team. I am starting at the bottom and working my way up, the more qualifications and the more experience I get, more responsibility I gain.
What projects you have been involved in?
Work can change on a regular basis, dependent upon how busy sectors or the company are, which clients require seconded staff and for what period of time. I have spent half of my three years experience in the retail sector on jobs such and £90m Grand Arcade in Cambridge (opened in 2008). Progressing to more responsibility on the £25m Thecentre:mk (completed June 2010) carrying out tasks such as compiling estimates, attending client meetings, agreeing tenders as well as assisting in providing cost plans and reports.
Due to the changing requirements in the office I recently moved into the transport sector and have been involved in various very large civil engineering projects around London. Currently, I assist two associate directors within the commercial team on a multi-million pound civil engineering scheme.
How do you hold down a full-time job and study at the same time?
Completing a Higher National Certificate on day release and in my spare time as well as working four days a week is quite demanding but it can be done; as proven by the colleagues I work with who have undertaken the same training route. You do need to be dedicated to your apprenticeship and to be able to manage your time carefully. The key is to be organised and to manage deadlines effectively.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I hope to have completed my degree in quantity surveying and be qualified as a chartered surveyor. For the long-term future I am hopeful to become an associate director within Cyril Sweett, either in London or abroad.
Any advice for anyone contemplating the CSTT route?
My advice would be to thoroughly research the industry and make sure it is really something that you want to do. When choosing this career path you have to be aware that is takes dedication, personal motivation as in addition to working you will need to be willing to give up some of your spare time for studying. If you have enthusiasm and a good work ethic then you will succeed and the rewards at the end of training will reflect the hard work you have put in.