At school, I was really keen on creative subjects but was also interested in science. It wasn’t until I got to A Levels that a girl in my school told me that she wanted to do architecture, which seemed like a career path that would also suit me. Until this point I hadn’t heard anything about the construction industry – I didn’t know what opportunities were available and, coming from an all girls’ school, we weren’t made aware of the many careers within construction.
It wasn’t until I was at university that I realised it wasn’t for me and I started looking at other career options. After leaving university I took up a project coordination role within retail fit out which I found better suited my character. Initially I’d trained in Architecture which meant a lot of hard work to build up the right experience to be able to pursue project management. I’ve been at Pick Everard for just over one year now and am thankful that I finally have the job I’ve been searching for.
It’s difficult for young girls to know what opportunities are available to them when stereotypes dictate what’s ‘best’ for them and the necessary information isn’t readily available for them to make their own decisions.
I’m a member of the RICS committee and really push the education side of things. A lot of young people want to be proactive but don’t know where to start. We go into schools and speak to students, giving them advice and guidance in terms of where to start. I’m also keen to get involved in speaking to primary school aged children, the younger the better when it comes to inspiring girls – and boys.
It would be great to see a combined effort between industry and the decision makers behind the curriculum to promote different options for life after compulsory education, especially for the benefit of young girls who, although this is changing, are markedly less involved in STEM subjects once they leave school.
International Women’s Day offers a great platform to have this conversation and highlight to girls that they need to go after what they want.
Knowing what I know now I definitely would have spoken up more at school and been more confident in my approach – I wish I had asked more questions and really found out what options were available rather than accepting what was first given to me.
Advice I often give to both girls and boys is to be proactive and find work experience. Even if you are not sure as to whether you have enough experience, get in touch anyway; write to the HR department to explain your situation and what you’d like to achieve out of working with them. Being polite and concise will never hurt and will help you build up your confidence. Think outside the box and do whatever you need to do to get your foot in the door because we need more driven individuals in the construction industry who are willing to go the extra mile and not be afraid of putting themselves out there.