This Wednesday, we interviewed Jessa, a third year apprentice, an @EofEYAANAmbassador, and a @YoungMindsUKActivist
Hi Jessa, thanks for talking to Women in Construction and Trade today! Tell us a little bit about what you do!
I’ve taken an apprenticeship route into the [construction] industry – I’m currently in my third year of a Chartered Surveyor Degree apprenticeship.
And what was your motivation for wanting to join the construction industry?
I wasn’t 100% sure about what I wanted to do leaving school but when I saw the job description for QSing, I thought that this role would really suit me and things that I love about working.
Having experienced a couple of years in the industry now I’m so glad I chose to work in construction because there’s a lot of teamwork and collaboration with opportunities to meet new people. I appreciate the opportunities to go on-site which is a great change of scenery from being stuck at a desk all day, and it’s such a unique experience being able to see the progress and projects come to life.
Construction has a huge impact on everyone’s lives (we all need buildings!) and it is an area that definitely has room for improvement in terms of sustainability goals etc., so this motivates me to want to learn more about the industry and do my part to help improve developments for future generations.
You’re a Young Minds UK Activist – what inspired you to get involved in that?
Following some relatively severe mental health struggles as a teenager, I wanted to try and share my experiences and further normalise discussions about mental health. I felt like not enough was being done at my secondary school to acknowledge and respect students who were struggling and through YoungMinds I’ve been so fortunate to have my voice heard and being able to contribute to discussions about how things can improve for other young people.
I’ve had so many amazing opportunities, including speaking in parliament and helping launch a campaign that’s running throughout March to support those who are caring and supporting other people. (#NotAllOnYou)
What makes a standard work day into a brilliant work day for you?
Usually, days stand out when I learn or try something new, say for example when I get opportunities to have more of a lead role on projects (rather than just assisting) and interact with the project team and/or clients, or going on-site and being able to see how things actually happen. I am quite a social person so having positive and productive interactions with others and being able to see / hear how my work has helped contribute to final outcomes often makes a day much more exciting.
What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?
I’ve only been working in construction for a couple of years, but would have to say my favourite types of projects have been student accommodation or hotel schemes. It’s exciting being able to work on projects that potentially impact where my friends study, as well as seeing the wide range of scope that hotels can cover- some clients have very high specifications and it’s been so interesting being involved in the development for hotels for well-known places such as theme parks.
Why do you think it’s important that more women start entering the construction industry?
I know that diversity can be a bit of a buzzword and a tick-box exercise for some people, but there are genuine benefits in having more groups of people interested in working in the construction industry. Males take up about 90% of the UK construction industry and even on my university course women are in the vast minority.
By having more women and people of different backgrounds working in construction, it enables a much more diverse range of perspectives to be brought to the table. This can innovate and inspire even more positive change to happen that can help meet with sustainability targets (which are fast approaching!).
What’s your biggest life goal?
My main life goal is to be able to make a positive impact on other people’s lives.
Is there anything you would like to say to other women who are just entering the industry?
I think I’m pretty much in the same boat and in the early stages of being in the industry, but would say to others that it is really empowering to be able to contribute ideas and interact with others in the industry, and to be accepted as equal.
My company (Stace LLP) and pretty much everyone I’ve met along the way so far has been very supportive in my professional development, and whilst sometimes it can be daunting that it’s a bit of a man’s world, by having more women interested entering in the industry is an amazing step to helping normalise the fact that anyone can be successful into these stereotypically male roles.
What are some strategies you’ve picked up that could help other women achieve a more prominent role in their industries?
As I’m still in my early stages of being in the industry I have more limited advice here, but would probably emphasize that construction is an industry that rewards hard work. Some of the partners at Stace and many people at the top of the top have started in the same positions as myself- that is, straight out of school with limited experience- and this gives me so much motivation to try and be able to reach their level of expertise too.
I really don’t think that being a woman in the industry has held me back at all and, if anything, it’s helped me in my development, because many people out there want to see us succeed in construction in the next generation of future leaders and I get so much helpful support because of that.
We like to end with a desert island round! Three tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island?
Ooh this is a tough one… three tracks:
Melinda by Jason Robert Brown
Many Shades of Black by Adele
New World Symphony by Dvorak
(then I would just belt and sing any other songs I can remember!)
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Hmm.. maybe my sewing machine- would give me something to do to pass the time haha
This was Jessa, who can be found on Twitter at @BldgOnMyMind, or on Youtube: BldgOnMyMind, where she talks about anything that interests her about mental health and construction.
This interview was for our #WiCW series – a compilation of articles from inspirational women in the Construction and Trades industries.
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