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Louise Lawson, BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying student and President of the Reading University Construction Society (RUCS), helps other students to build their industry networks, secure placements and join the School's supportive community.

Building your network

Louise strongly encourages her fellow students to take advantage of the opportunities the School offers you to build up your network of industry contacts: 

"The University is excellent at helping you build your network, through the academics' existing links with industry, the careers days they run, and the guest speakers they invite in. 

"RUCS also provides great networking opportunities, in particular our informal evening events. We invite our corporate members in – who are from well-known industry firms – and they give a presentation on their graduate scheme, their projects, and their summer placements. 

"They also bring their graduates with them, who are usually Reading alumni, to talk about their experiences. 

"After the presentation, everyone stands around chatting, has a bite to eat and a drink, and you have the opportunity to ask questions. Then after the event we share the firm's details so you can get in touch. It's through these links with industry that the majority of our students pick up placements."

Valuable experience

Louise has used her industry network to secure a variety of placements during her studies:

"During the summer breaks, I have spent four weeks at a consultancy quantity surveying firm, and several months working on Crossrail for a main contractor.

"Placements are so valuable because you get to see what you are learning and why you are learning it. Placements also offer valuable opportunities to develop teamwork and problem-solving skills.

"I've learned loads on my placements and it puts my studies into context. During one site placement I had to work out where the electrical sockets could go in the walls – to do this I had to understand the different fire-resistances of each wall.

"When I returned to university and studied fire-resistances as part of a module, it suddenly all came together and made sense, enhancing my understanding of the topic.

"Reading doesn't just teach us the technical stuff. We're trained to understand why certain decisions are being made at management-level, so we can hit the ground running and stand out from the crowd.

"I've now got a graduate job lined up, working with a firm I met through RUCS, with staff I met on my first placement."

Supportive community

Louise believes that one of the School's greatest strengths is the relationships between its students and staff: 

"The School is so personal – the lecturers know me on a first name basis and they're very quick to flag if something's going wrong. 

"There's a real level of care here, whereas when I was at another university I felt like I slipped through the cracks. All the small touches make such a big difference. 

"RUCS is a huge part of cultivating our community, bringing together students from across all the years. It's quite rare for your best friends to be your course friends, but that's really common in our School – we're like a little family. 

"I socialise with students across the younger years, as well as alumni who graduated two years ago – RUCS really does bring us all together. 

"RUCS is also a learning tool, through which you can find peer support. Our degrees are such varied courses, you're never going to understand every little bit. So you'll frequently see the older years helping out the younger years, and you can always find someone in our communal resource room if you need help."

Coming back to Reading

Louise says that graduates coming back to the School is an important part of the culture at Reading:

"I still frequently see graduates from two or three years above me at all the careers days. It's great to see someone who has literally followed your route and you can see where they are a few years down the line.

"My graduate firm have already told me they're sending me back into Reading next year to recruit for them.

"I'm sad to be leaving – coming to Reading was the best decision I ever made. I'm excited to come back and see how everyone's getting on."

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