What drew you towards the Prater apprenticeship scheme in September 2018?
I found the role on LinkedIn when I was initially searching for apprenticeship opportunities. When I finished college, I knew that the university route wasn’t for me. Personally, I prefer learning in a hands-on environment, rather than undergoing the academic theory-based route.
When you explained why you chose your apprenticeship, you mentioned it would be interesting to see what challenges there would be as a woman entering what is considered a male dominated industry. Did you encounter any challenges? And were you supported in your apprenticeship to overcome them?
Overall, I’ve had an extremely positive reaction from my co-workers on-site and in the office. While there are still some challenges to overcome to help balance the scales across the entire industry, I’ve been able to work on several building sites and with supply chain partners that have a large female presence. The industry is changing, and it’s very refreshing to witness and be a part of!
On completion of the course, what was it that made you select your chosen career path?
Personally, I am an extremely numbers-orientated person and I’ve always had an interest in business operations, so when I started the apprenticeship, I knew a role that required those skills would resonate more with me, but was very happy the course gave me the opportunity to experience other roles that I might not have considered beforehand. With the help and support of my mentor, I have a lot of responsibility that includes looking after the financial side of projects; monitoring cash flow and looking at cash forecasting. This role also requires a legal understanding such as looking at all the contractual requirements of each project.
What are you most enjoying about this role?
Now that I’ve finished the rotation, I’m feeling settled into a steady role. I now have projects I can truly call my own, managing contracts and finance and seeing through to the build stage and beyond. My role is extremely varied in that I have a mixture of being in the office and being on site which allows me to get really involved in a project in a number of ways. It really is such a diverse role and every day presents different opportunities.
What was a key moment for you once you’d settled into your new role?
Getting to work on projects from the early concepts and digital model stages, through to establishing the works needed to turn those concepts into a working reality for the client, is such an interesting experience. We’ve worked with some key clients, such as Google, and knowing I have a hand in delivering those builds is extremely rewarding.
What has been the biggest surprise for you, joining the construction industry?
The sheer amount of opportunities available in this industry was a pleasant surprise. I knew that a lot of work went into a project, but there are so many jobs that take place off site before a building is even through the tender stage, and with so many unseen elements - it has changed my outlook on the whole of the construction industry, such as the way I view buildings in my everyday life.
How did Prater support you during your training?
As part of the course, I was required to keep a learning log that ensured I was progressing as anticipated. In addition, I worked and met with the Learning and Development manager regularly so I could talk openly about my progress and development. I had constant support throughout the apprenticeship, which has continued long into my chosen role with an excellent mentor. I have also found a lot of support in my fellow apprentices – the four of us began at the same time and we worked through our rotations in pairs, so we’ve come to know each other as good friends. Having each other has been brilliant, as we have all been experiencing the same new journey together.
Would you recommend Prater’s apprenticeship programme to anyone else looking to start their career or take it on a new path?
Absolutely – it is the perfect first step into a career. It provides the opportunity to really learn and consider what path you want to take. Once you have chosen your next step, beyond the apprenticeship, you respect and appreciate the responsibilities of other departments across the company. This has really helped me in being able to manage situations involving other departments and to present solutions suitable for everyone where possible.
I would recommend anyone, from college leavers like myself, to university graduates, or anyone looking to have a change in their career, to look into an apprenticeship. It is a fantastic chance to learn practical skills and build experience in a new environment whilst earning.