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Anais Carson-Mee

Anais Carson Mee, Building Surveying, Birmingham City University

Anais has undertaken a range of different work experience programmes and placements while studying BSc (Hons) Building Surveying. We caught up with Anais to find out about some of the opportunities she has been involved with.

Why did you choose to study your course? 

I chose to study BSc (Hons) Building Surveying as I have always had an interest in the built environment and construction industry. I grew up around parents who worked within the industry. Originally, I thought I wanted to go down the architecture route and so enrolled on a course at a different university. I soon realised that I wasn’t so keen on the creative and conceptual side but more interested in the technical, hands-on, pre and post occupancy side. I feel a lot more connected to the built environment once it is built and creates a sense of space and place, so I decided to try out building surveying (not knowing a lot about it prior!). I have enjoyed every second of it so far.

What do you enjoy most about studying your course at BCU?

I could go on and on about the things I enjoy most about studying at BCU, but the main reason would be down to the lecturers and course leaders; the people who you value and look up to the most, are the most helpful, inspiring and insightful people I have ever come across. In a lot of places, you are often made to feel like just ‘another number’, however, at BCU you really feel like part of a community in which everyone respects you as an individual. Course leaders have sent so many amazing opportunities across to me which have all led to great experiences and connections.

I also enjoy the campus and its location, with great connections and really modern facilities it is almost a retreat coming into university to work! The senior leadership team at BCU are really forward-thinking and the external connections with other universities is amazing. I also had a recent opportunity to study on an Erasmus exchange semester at a partner university in Copenhagen which really opened my eyes to working abroad and allowed for further personal development.

Tell us about some of your placement opportunities

During my time at BCU I have held various different positions including a permanent role, an internship, a summer internship and contractual work.

Since starting at BCU I have held a permanent, part-time role at a civil engineering company, Freyssinet, where I was a CAD drafter and document controller, helping to produce drawings for post-tension slabs on prestigious projects all over the world. I also held responsibility in communicating and liaising with clients regarding the drawing documentation and requests. I have been involved with projects such as: One Nine Elms, London; Damac (Versace) Tower, Nine Elms; and Chamberlain Square, Birmingham.

In my first year at BCU I applied for the Savills Insight Programme which was a week shadowing building surveyors, seniors and directors within the company in the Birmingham office. This opportunity gave me invaluable insight into the role and career I am studying towards.

At the end of my first year I applied for a summer internship at Avison Young in London. After a rigorous selection process, I secured a 4-week internship in London. Again, I shadowed building surveyors, seniors and directors within the group. Working there for a few weeks allowed to better understand the development of projects and their processes within surveying.

In second year, I was selected to go on an Erasmus exchange programme in Copenhagen at a partner university. Whilst I was out there, my course leader Emma Love sent over an opportunity at Foster + Partners architects in London. I immediately applied as it has always been my dream to work there. After interviews, I was offered the role of a summer intern within the sustainability team. During the summer I worked on a range of projects from the Middle East, to America, to Asia including architecturally astounding international airports, masterplans, skyscrapers and industry leading energy efficient programmes.

Following on from my summer internship at Foster + Partners I was offered the opportunity to continue working alongside my final year at university. I am still there currently, continuing my work within sustainability on projects across the world and studying full-time in my bachelor’s degree in building surveying.

Why did you decide to do a placement? 

I’ve always jumped at every opportunity thrown my way no matter how big or small-  you’ve just got to believe in yourself. Placements, internships, full-time careers, part-time careers, contracts; no matter the role you will always gain so much experience and will continue to shape and develop you as a person. They round you as a person and can often bring you so much more opportunity as you have already reached out and made that first connection.

What was the highlight of your placements?  

In every role I have held I have found the highlights include not only the projects you are introduced to and work on, but the colleagues, clients, developers, contractors, suppliers you meet along the way. These are the people who motivate you and these interactions bring vast amounts of knowledge. These connections also allow for immense growth as an individual and no matter how big and extravagant a project may be, often your best assets lie within the people you know.

What was the application process like? 

Every application process has been different. You will get the traditional method of application, interview and occasionally a short online test. In my experience I have had application processes both long and short. Some have been a simple case of knowing someone within a company and managing to get a week’s experience/job through them, but for most I have filled out online application forms via the company’s website and then been invited to attend an interview. For most, I have been fortunate enough to have been offered the position shortly after.

How did the university help you find your placement? 

Most of these opportunities have come directly from my university lecturers. The internship I did at Avison Young was actually introduced via a course social page post from an apprentice student already working within the company. However, the weekly emails from the BCU CEBE Careers team are really convenient and I have applied for many graduate positions that were originally introduced to me through the Careers team. Just make sure you’re in contact with the most valuable people to you and you keep on top of job listings!

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What are your future career plans/ambitions and how have your placements affected this? 

I plan to go down the chartered building surveyor route. This involves a 2-year learning process within a company and then a final exam to gain your chartership. I also have aspirations to live and work abroad in order to broaden my knowledge and experience within the industry across the world. Having done a range of internships and jobs already, I think I have figured out what I enjoy and what I perhaps don’t enjoy doing as much which will steer my career decisions in the future.

What advantages has your placement(s) given you? 

The advantages are the connections you make, putting your name out there and getting on with the job in hand. It is inevitable that you will always gain lots more knowledge and understanding from any kind of work experience, and it really helps you figure out what you’re actually going into in the future, what you enjoy and what you don’t. There’s nothing worse than going into a career you have no interest in and instead results in a monotonous ritual!

What placement advice do you have for future students?

My advice to future students would be to just apply for it, even if you think you don’t believe in yourself just apply, you’ve got nothing to lose!! In fact, you’ve even got something to gain because it has your name written all over the application! Interview experience from these is always invaluable and make sure you keep the connections via LinkedIn (an absolute career lifeline of a social networking platform!). Most importantly keep going and don’t give up on your dreams, they’ll come in various ways and you might not even know it!