Work experience in the construction industry

Like getting a start in most other industries, getting an internship or experience in the construction sector is a vital first step.

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Relevant experience such as an
internship is key to getting a
graduate scheme place in the
diverse world of the construction
industry. Knowing what you need,
when is best to apply and how to
stand out from the competition in
your application can be achieved by
doing your research, networking with
those in the industry and talking to
your careers service.

As the sector continues to grow
following the recession, industryrelated
work experience is getting
more competitive, but if you can
secure experience in the industry it
will:

  • Display to employers that you have
    a genuine desire to join the industry
  • Show that you can carry out work
    similar to that of a graduate
    employee
  • Develop a network of industry
    contacts who might be able to help
    you in your search for jobs
  • Develop the ‘employability’ skills
    that you’ll need in the working
    world.

Types of work experience

Most work experience placements
are open to students in the second
year of their degree and you should
apply early in the academic year – a
common mistake is leaving it too late.
Start researching placements in your
first year, and try to get less formal
experience with smaller
organisations.

Work experience options include:

  • a year in industry as part of your
    Degree.
  • summer or vacation placements,
    usually aimed at penultimate-year
    students but also keen first years
    or finalists.
  • unpaid placements or workshadowing,
    where you follow a
    construction professional
    throughout their working day to
    gain an understanding of their job.
  • volunteering projects, for example
    house-building overseas.

Application tips

Do your research on the employer and
write about why you want to do work
experience at that company in
particular: reasons could include their
expertise in a certain area or the
recent projects they’ve worked on.
Employers don’t expect the same level
of technical knowledge and
experience as they do of graduates.
But they do expect enthusiastic people
who can articulate their motivation
for working in construction and are
aware of current industry issues.

  • Make the most of any
    opportunities offered by your
    college: go on all study trips to
    sites and employers.
  • Go for labouring/short-term
    agency work (if you want to work
    in building surveying
  • try a parttime
    job in an estate agency).
  • Speculatively apply for workshadowing
    (observation) or work
    experience opportunities. Tailor
    your application to the company
    you’re applying to.
  • Know what’s happening in the
    Industry, check what’s happening
    with professional bodies such as
    the Construction Industry
    Federation (www.cif.ie)
  • Take a year out and volunteer on a
    charity construction project.
  • Get a non-construction job in a
    construction firm – you may hear
    of other opportunities you can
    apply for

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