My placement saw me working on a brand new £40million super school

Anna Chappell, from Neath, is studying the BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management.  She has recently finished a one-year paid internship with Bouygues UK as a trainee quantity surveyor.

Why did you choose Quantity Surveying?
Before starting University, I worked as an assistant manager for a builders' merchant where I gained an insight into the construction industry. The role of a Quantity Surveyor appealed to me as it's mathematically based and I had studied Maths and Science at A-level. The role is so varied and every project you work on is unique. Once qualified you can work anywhere in the world, and experiencing the end of a project is immensely satisfying!

Why did you choose to do a placement?
During my second year, I felt that the students who were working had a huge advantage – they could add personal experience to class discussion and assignments, whereas I had no industry experience. I was nominated for the Women in Property Student Awards scheme by one of my lecturers, and a regional director for Bouygues UK was on the interview panel. I mentioned I was looking for work experience and a few weeks later I had a call from the HR department. 

Describe what you did on placement
A Quantity Surveyor is involved in the cost management, procurement and contractual aspects of a construction project. Working for a main contractor I was responsible for:

  • The financial management of a group of subcontractors – from certifying payment to instructing additional works required on site. 
  • Procurement of packages of work – producing a tender package, issue to subcontractors, and review the returned proposals, then award and produce a subcontract order. 
  • Assist the project QS with monthly reporting. 

What projects did you work on?
I spent time on three projects – all very different projects and at different stages of construction. For the last six months, I worked on Ysgol Bae Baglan – a brand new £40million super school that saw three secondary and a primary school merge. The project was very successful, handing over three weeks early. 

What did you enjoy about it?
I loved being on site and seeing the daily changes to the building and site environment. Getting to put into practice what I’d learnt in lectures and seeing how it fits into the reality of a construction project was invaluable experience. Working with an experienced project team taught me not just about the role of a QS but the other roles of the project team too. 

What were the highlights? 
As I joined the project, an additional two external buildings – classroom pods - were instructed by the client. It was a brilliant experience to be involved in the process of making these buildings happen, in a very short space of time! The programme for the construction was very tight, but the strong project management meant that the classroom pods were ready to be used for the opening of the school. From a personal construction knowledge aspect, it was an invaluable experience.

What new skills and knowledge did you gain?
I learnt so much – everything from improving my Microsoft Excel skills to construction knowledge.  What I’ve learnt this year will help with my final year and is great to have on my CV.