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Harry Nicholls


United Kingdom
Each day poses different challenges and being on this placement gives me the exposure as to how you overcome certain challenges.

More about Harry

Why did you choose NTU and your course?

I chose to join NTU, and to study Construction Management due to the opportunities the course provides. The fact that a placement year was offered meant that I could learn the technical skills of construction in my first two years at university, and apply these on my year out. Now, being on my placement year, I could not recommend taking this route enough, as I have already learned so much in the space of six months, which is going to put me in good stead for my final year.

Have you been involved in any live projects of briefs on your course and if so, can you talk a bit about one you really enjoyed?

We were given the opportunity in both first year and second year to visit live projects, the first being a new build housing estate, and the second was a steel frame warehouse in Corby. Which is funnily enough the same project I am now working on for VolkerFitzpatrick.

As well as these site visits, you are given the opportunity to study projects, in certain pieces of coursework. So, although it may not be a live project, you are still exposed to projects which gives you a better understanding of how the theory of everything you learn, is then applied.

Could you please explain more about your current / recent placement, and what you did during this time?

My placement year has consisted of working as an Assistant Site Manager, which entails a broad range of activities - this can be anything from dealing with sub-contractors on site and any issues they have, to handling small packages and handling labourers.

Whilst working for VolkerFitzpatrick I was also given the chance to be an Assistant Quantity Surveyor, where I had learnt about monthly cost plans, accruals and how to write contracts.

I have currently worked on four different projects, seeing all different aspects of the construction process, whilst being given responsibility on each of these projects. Each day poses different challenges and being on this placement gives me the exposure as to how you overcome certain challenges.

What is your favourite project that you’ve worked on during your placement and why?

My favourite project was a Mechanical and Electrical fit-out job in Milton Keynes for the Royal Mail. It was my favourite project due to the responsibility it gave me, and how much it taught me with regards to how sub-contractors should be handled, as well as the paperwork which needs to be filled out as the project goes along. It was nice to learn the process from somebody, whilst being exposed to day-to-day activities.

The Site Manager had gone through the same process as I had, through NTU, so it was nice to have his support, as he knew what it felt like being a placement student.

How will these skills enhance your employability for your chosen career?

I believe that the skills I have gained whilst working on my placement year puts me in good stead going forward, as I know what working for a Main Contractor would entail. I believe that taking a year out puts you at an advantage to students who don’t choose to take a year out, as I have on-site skills and knowledge, that you wouldn’t ever learn in a lecture or seminar.

What’s next for you after NTU?

I’m hoping to secure a graduate’s job with VolkerFitzpatrick, this means I would go from my final year back to the company I conducted my placement with. This would allow me to train in Site Management and give me the knowledge and experience to work towards my long-term ambitions, which is Project Management.

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