My placement with Network Rail led to further career opportunities

Sophie Giles - Quantity Surveying.jpeg

What course are you studying? 

I studied Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management and graduated this year. 

Why did you choose this course?

Prior to commencing my studies, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to go into. I heard from people within the construction industry that Quantity Surveying was an interesting and varied career with lots of opportunities to progress in the role across industries. Maths had always been my favourite subject in school and the profession allows me to continuously develop these skills. 

Why did you choose to do a placement as part of your course?

I felt the knowledge I had gained during the first year and second year of my studies could have been enhanced through obtaining experience in the construction industry and I believed that taking the opportunity to do a placement year would allow me to put into practice the skills that had been taught to me within the university. This was also beneficial for my professional development and for enhancing my CV. 

What did your placement involve?

For my placement, I was fortunate enough to secure a position in Network Rail within the Contracts and Procurement team who are responsible for the sourcing and purchasing of goods, works and services for Network Rail, sourced from internal and external suppliers and contractors. I worked individually and together with all members who make up the Contracts and Procurement team, gaining an insight on how all roles within the team played an important part in delivering projects successfully and safely. 

What kind of projects did you work on?

I worked on a range of projects, pre and post contract which aimed to carry out restoration and maintenance work to railway infrastructures such as station canopies, signal boxes and station platforms. I was given the chance to learn the step-by-step process to deliver goods, works and services, which included inviting suppliers to tender for work requested by the Client and comparing their costs to see which option would be most cost-effective, as well as working with the Client to see if the supplier submissions met the Client’s requirements. I was also involved with the issuing of payments to Contractors who had provided a service to Network Rail, ensuring their applications for payment reflected the cost of work completed.  

What new skills and knowledge did you gain from the placement?

I believe my placement allowed me to gain a range of new skills and to develop on existing ones. I was able to work with various departments within Network Rail, appreciating the roles of the different disciplines and the importance of working as a team to safely operate the railway. I worked to set deadlines, for example, providing payment to Contractors within the contracted payment period. Over time I became more confident with working independently and making decisions that would benefit the team. 

How will the placement help your career?

The placement has already helped my career. Within 6 months of my placement at Network Rail I was provided with the opportunity to step into the role of Assistant Commercial Manager and I was fortunate to remain in that position for a year until the end of my contract in January 2021. The experience and skills I had gained during my time at Network Rail allowed me to secure my current role with ChandlerKBS prior to finishing my degree. I believe without this experience I would have found it slightly harder to find work so quickly upon finishing university. I recommend doing a placement year and I am really grateful to have been given the chance to take one.

Find out about other Built Environment Professional Placements.