Katie Constable is a woman on a mission. After setting up her own chocolate fountain business, Fountain Au Choc-o-lat, at the age of 18, the 22-year old Salford University student has embarked upon a career in the construction industry following her appointment as an assistant building surveyor at leading UK commercial property advisor, GVA.
In an exclusive interview with Premier Construction, Katie spoke of her determination to succeed in such a competitive industry:
“I carried out a lot of research before deciding on a career in building surveying. After looking at a range of options, including architecture and construction management, building surveying was a field that really caught my eye.
“My ultimate aim was to be offered a graduate job, and I am delighted to say that I have achieved this. I initially sent out around 40 cover letters to firms in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Huddersfield asking for the chance to complete a placement. After passing two interviews at GVA, I was offered the position of assistant building surveyor.
“GVA is a company that I thoroughly researched before I applied, as they are the UK’s leading commercial property advisers. It is incredibly exciting to work for such a large company, as it means that I can work on bigger projects – everything is twice the size.”
Katie is currently working towards a BSc (Hons) Building Surveying at the University of Salford, which is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Although the course has provided her with a sound theoretical understanding, she believes that her work placement at GVA has allowed her to really experience firsthand what the industry has to offer:
“The most enjoyable part is being able to put the theory into practice. The first year of my course focused on basic construction and design, whilst the second year centred on building pathology and construction technology. Throughout my placement, I have been able to use the ideology I have learnt at university to inform my day-to-day decisions.
“Every day is different; I will be onsite one day, and in the office the next. As GVA deal with so many different types of property, I have done absolutely everything – from refurbishments and fit-outs to demolition works, historic buildings and new builds.”
A strong work ethic and a drive to succeed are essential for a career in the construction industry, as Katie explained:
“I have always been a very ambitious person; I set up my own business at the age of 18, and it has since been featured on BBC3’s Don’t Tell the Bride. I am currently working on my APC, which means that I will be chartered by 2014. It is onwards and upwards from there, and in years to come I hope to become a director of GVA.
“My advice to other students would be to never give up. There is a lot of rejection due to the current economic climate. I sent off 40 applications and I ended up with 4 job offers, so it is possible – you just have to put the work in.”
Katie has worked on a variety of exciting projects during her 12 months with GVA, which has in turn sparked her passion for ensuring the survival of existing buildings:
“My favourite project has to be the restoration of a Grade II listed cinema. After bringing in a conservation officer and assessing the building defects – including water ingress – we were able to bring the cinema back to life.
“Without companies like GVA there would be no buildings, as the existing historic developments would just deteriorate. Without building surveyors to determine the next step, we would be looking at the end to an era of some of the country’s most important buildings.”
For more information on GVA, visit: www.gva.co.uk