Constructing her career in Construction

Constructing her career in ConstructionOur guest blog is from Renata Bagniukova who works in an industry that’s not normally associated with women. Construction.  She’s got some words of advice for anyone considering what can be a challenging but hugely exciting career.

I have worked for Vinci Construction for 2 years now. When looking back I was very lucky. I kept applying for the graduate jobs/trainee positions while studying civil engineering and also after I graduated. Well, I didn’t get any jobs for a long time and it really got me down. I used the opportunity and contacted Women in Construction who helped me to organise CSCS card and also SSMTS training.

After lots of trying I eventually decided to get some work experience through a trainee unpaid position for 3 months to get the experience of being on construction site.  I started applying for construction jobs through the agencies until one of them offered me a 3-month position at Heathrow Airport with Vinci Construction. I had an interview the next day and within 7 days I was working at Heathrow as a coordinator. With great support from the Vinci team, especially Peter Groenen the Site Manager, I learned how the construction industry works, how airport works are managed and everything about handover documents and closing down the project.

Three months turned into 9 months so quickly. Through good recommendations I got transferred to New Covent Garden Market project, a £200million redevelopment/upgrade  with small businesses still operating as it goes on.  After 3 months I became officially employed by Vinci as a Site Engineer. It’s great to spend time on site learning from my more experienced colleagues and our subbies, solving all sort of problems and helping each other. Every day is different, challenging and I would not change it!

The most important lessons, I have learned along the way are the following:

  1. Never give up!

There are times when it is easier to find an easy job in different areas rather than in construction. So you need a strong will and be ready for a construction career. It means having a CSCS card and SMSTS training in your pocket so whenever the opportunity comes you are ready to go!

  1. Be patient

The opportunities come when you least expect them. Don’t wait though, and start looking for opportunities during your studies.  Try to get as much training and experience during the summer holidays even if it is unpaid. Every university has a department where you can get help with your CV, CL and job searching. Visit the graduate job fairs and see what is on the market. Give the companies your CV to see what they expect from the candidates.

  1. Network!

I have visited some events in London and one stuck in my mind. It was organised by Taylor Woodrow and the topic was Supporting Women in construction. What a great event!  I actually started socialising with others without any problems and found the answers to my questions!  A month later I went for a general interview at Taylor Woodrow.

  1. No worries if you don’t know find anything!

Construction industry is a huge industry and therefore it is impossible to know everything.  When I started, I was afraid of asking stupid questions but with time I have learned that there is always someone around to ask for help and if that person is not sure about the answer, they will know who to ask anyway. So no worries at all!

  1. Learn as you go

As a Site Engineer, every day is different. I am on my second project now and it certainly becomes easier with more experience on site. It is easier to predict things, to stay on top of the work necessary and be prepared for them. Sometimes the job is very challenging. Especially when there are a lot of subcontractors on site requiring quality checks of their work and at the same time they need the work to be set out for them. In such times, I must remember the wise words of one of the construction managers from Heathrow, Peter:  DO ONE THING AT THE TIME!  That sentence saved me so many times already!

Do you work in an industry that’s not normally associated with women?  If so get in touch and tell your story.

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