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Career Options in Property, Architecture & Construction : Student

As an undergraduate, you may be more worried about construction a water slide for you flat, or making sure how having a BBQ won’t affect the health of next doors plant garden. But if you’re keen on entering the property, construction and architecture industry, there are plenty of opportunities available to the undergraduate.

Given that the number of organisations interested in property, construction and architecture is vast and includes insurance companies, banks and local and national government, work experience can be found in all sort of nooks and crannies.

Opportunities available to undergraduates

- Work experience

- Internships

- Placement/year in industry

- Organisation membership.

The best way to land a career in any industry, not just property, construction and architecture, is through developing your work experience. To become an effective property surveyor, you need to train your eye and ability to see the potential in an abandoned building or large space. However, as an architect, you also need to consider what’s best for the surrounding environment so communicating with others is key. Therefore, even if you shadowed a local property surveyor for a week, this would be really valuable experience. Additionally, some larger architecture agencies may offer summer internships. These are ideal for penultimate year students who want to get some valuable experience under their belt and to expand their knowledge of the industry. Check out the websites of company’s you’re interested in working for to find out when their internship application deadlines are. Even if they don’t have an official internship programme, sending a speculative cover letter can’t hurt your chances.

Additionally, many degree courses specialising in this area, such as building and town planning, offer the option of a sandwich year or year in industry. This usually takes place between your second and third year and allows you to take on a full time job in the industry, allowing you to develop your experience and lay the groundwork (pardon the pun) for landing yourself a job once you graduate. Though you need to take more qualifications following graduation to become chartered, sandwich years are a fantastic way to get a taster for what it’s like to work full-time in the industry and expand your network.

Finally, even as a student you can become members of chartered institutions. For example, the Royal Institute of British Architects and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors support current students by offering them membership, job advice and study resources. There may even be some scholarships up for grabs to reduce the cost of your studies.

Deadlines to consider

Official internship programmes at larger companies will have deadlines that you will need to make a note of. It can be tough juggling project deadlines, library book loans and internship applications, but it’s all part of multitasking and prioritising your time. These are skills employers in the industry will look for, so it’s good to get some practice in.

Even if companies don’t have set deadlines for work experience and internship applications, it’s better that you manage your time well and send out speculative requests sooner rather than later. There is very little likelihood that you’ll secure a month of work experience if you phone the company you want to work for at the beginning of June asking to start within a week. Extend the feelers earlier in the year, no later than April.

The big deadlines will be for the sandwich year/year in industry applications. You will have to meet application deadlines, of course, but will also need to be aware that you’ll need to make your university aware of your plans and also the Student Loans Company will need to know that you need less tuition and maybe even maintenance loan during your sandwich year. 

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