Josh Smith attained a coveted graduate role at global construction consultancy Turner & Townsend following the completion of his BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying course at the University of Reading.
"Blown away" at open day
Josh was very impressed after meeting academics within the School. So much so, that he changed Reading from his insurance to firm choice.
"I came along to the Open Day at Reading and was blown away after meeting academics like Dr Emmanuel Essah."
This change of heart following the Open Day is something Josh is thankful for.
"Studying at Reading was the best three years of my life, both socially and academically. Putting the effort in allowed me to become more connected and meant that the academics were always willing to help."
Adaptable surveying and construction management courses
The unique flexibility of the surveying and construction undergraduate courses offered by the School allows students to make an informed decision about which degree to study, as well as which modules.
This gives the option of adapting your degree to suit the needs of industry, all while studying.
"One of the great things about Reading is being able to choose your degree towards the end of your second year. When first choosing what to study you might not be sure what you are going to excel in. Looking back, the flexibility let me realise what I wanted to do.
"As the two years went on, I moved more on to quantity surveying; this came from my experience speaking to different companies and learning more about what the job entailed."
Close, connected community
Students in the School of Construction Management and Engineering become part of a supportive and collaborative international community of students, staff, alumni and partners. This support throughout the School is something Josh reflects on as a real positive.
"We were such a close community. We had our own area to study, our own IT lab. Through that and the committee it made it a great community.
"You speak and sit with people other years; second and third years give tips and guidance to first years. Students in the years above may be the ones to hire you when you get to the end of your course."
As well as the support from peers, learning opportunities are enhanced by the presence of those currently practising in industry – including our own academics, visiting professionals and alumni.
Networking and building career foundations
RUCS hold several networking events throughout the year, one of the highlights being their drinks and pizza evenings. During these relaxed events, companies from industry come in to present and interact with students.
“One of the best things about Reading is the amount of exposure we got to companies as students. RUCS gave us so much exposure to speak to and learn from companies throughout the three years.
"At events like these they would give a talk about what their company does, the projects they are working on and what type of roles are available. They would normally bring a Reading graduate along too. It was inspiring to see where you could go in the next couple of years.”
As well as RUCS, there are several other events run by the School and University more widely, to help give students the edge when applying for jobs.
“Through the University we had a main careers fair, and I also enjoyed the careers events specific to sectors relevant to the School's students, as it gives the chance to speak to a multitude of companies at once.”
A connection made at one of these RUCS events also helped Josh secure a summer placement at Alinea Consulting LLP, helping him to build more valuable practical, hands-on experience.
“I got my summer placement in my second year off the back of one of these events, after speaking to one of the directors at a company. I wouldn't have got that summer placement without the exposure you can get from the RUCS events.”
RUCS president role
In Josh's final year he became President of RUCS, an appointment Josh is proud of securing. He acknowledges how being part of this committee helped him when applying for jobs.
“I was really proud to become President of RUCS. Being part of a society is something you can put on your CV and gives you something different to talk about in interviews.
"You might get asked about problem solving or team building, and you can draw upon experiences from your time in the society. It gives you the edge."
"Everyone that came to the RUCS events came as they were looking to get a head start with their career. It was a chance for a foot in the door. Everyone was like-minded and wanted to help each other out."
Dream graduate role
Josh was inspired by the success of his previous students from the School securing roles at companies like Turner & Townsend. When the chance came, he applied for a graduate role and was delighted to be offered his dream job.
“At Turner & Townsend I am working within the health and education sector and have loved every minute of it. During my time here, I have worked with the Department for Education to help deliver free schools that I run independently, which has been amazing.
"I now manage multiple school projects which vary in size and budget. It's a rewarding sector to work in knowing that you've helped build something for students and the local community.
"I've had the privilege of working on and seeing some of the major projects my team has helped to deliver in recent years, such as the Francis Crick Research Institute, the largest of its kind in Europe. It's a great feeling knowing you've played a part in putting something together like this.
"I'm enjoying my work and am proud of what we do. It's great being able to work with other graduates both from Reading and universities all over the country.”