Architecture & Construction Jobs & Graduate Schemes

Working in Architecture & Construction

The process to design, develop and construct, not just a building but the whole redevelopment of an area involves many different people applying their skills in the Construction and Architecture sector. The field involves a variety of skills from a variety of disciplines, meaning graduates can enter the sector from different backgrounds and apply their knowledge and expertise to embark on a fantastic career in Construction and Architecture. These roles vary from being a Civil Engineer and Surveyor to Site Management, Transportation Planning or Bid Management. The Construction and Architecture sector offers graduates a chance to really shape their career through challenging and rewarding projects. Like many sectors, there are skills and traits that are applicable to various roles.

To get into the Construction and Architecture sector graduates do not always need a specific degree. Candidates applying for roles in Surveying or Civil Engineering will need a degree in the topic; however some of the more general roles like Site Management or Transportation Planning positions, employers can be a little more lenient in the type of degrees they accept. With Architecture, it usually takes at least seven years to be fully qualified after five years studying and two years in a professional office. Construction degrees are also available and can provide a head start in the skills needed for roles like Project Management or Site Management. These degrees are extremely beneficial for those aiming to break into the sector. There are other opportunities similar to this sector with similar degrees in Engineering, Environmental and Energy and Utilities.

Buildings and Beyond

Careers in Surveying are a fulfilling and dynamic career for graduates to pursue. It is the first point of call in any Construction process and is fundamental to any success in the sector. The measuring and assessing of space and land is important to the Construction and Architecture industry as everything relating to the project emanates from that origin. To pursue a career in Surveying, candidates must have great maths skills and be meticulous in the work they undertake. Facts and figures need to be spot on; otherwise it will cause no end of problems for Construction Firms and Architects. If a candidate has a degree that is an excellent start, if they can find themselves some work experience or shadowing, employers will be extremely impressed by their enthusiasm to gain skills in the field.

Other areas that graduates could look to explore would be a career in Civil Engineering. This field is as important as to laying the foundations of Construction or Architecture. Civil Engineering always requires a BEng and candidates should know this before preparing for a career in the field. Employers want to see graduates with a real passion for the practice; candidates would be advised to provide evidence of real work experience would be beneficial. Prospective Civil Engineers candidates would be advised to provide evidence of real work experience and have flawless Maths and Physics skills.

One thing that would be advised would be for candidates to have a particular speciality that they could emphasise in applications. It could be courses or projects that were part of a candidate's degree that relate to the company. It could be module on structural, soil or coastal Engineering that might relate to a company or firm's past or present projects. Employers like to see this sort of enthusiasm as well as a bit of research done about the company.

A key part to getting a job in Architecture is a graduate's portfolio. Prospective Architects need a portfolio that will knock the socks off employers through its style, quality and range of designs. Candidates need to think when presenting their portfolio about what is on display. They need to show clear and progressive thinking, clarity of objective, a balance between creative examples and real world practicality, always making sure that it is presented effectively and neatly. Many of the skills that Architects need are learnt at university, employers need to see that graduates want the job. This can be through extra work experience on top of their two year placement and a portfolio that is bursting at the seams with great and well executed designs.

Being a Site Manager or a Transportation Manager, graduates should be aware that employers require superb organisational skills. Candidates need to demonstrate the ability to effectively organise and motivate a work force to time schedules. The roles also require excellent communication skills between themselves and others working on the project, such as Surveyors, Architects and Civil Engineers. Clarity of communication between those parties allows smooth running of a site and project. Candidates should provide evidence of this, alongside qualifications, in the form of being in charge of societies and running events around that.

Site Managers need to have excellent problem solving skills. The role of Site Manager needs the successful candidate to be able to understand how these sites work and what the common problems they think they will encounter. This requires a mixture of experience in the field and lateral thinking, being able to see the bigger picture and work out a way to that. Candidates would be advised to suggest ways they've overcome difficulties in their academic or working lives to explain to employers they are the right person for the job.

Bid Management Teams are responsible for putting bids together and pitching proposals to potential clients. Candidates, for a role like this, need to understand the client and what they want. This element of Customer Service is important and will ultimately decide the success or failure of a candidate as a Bid Manager. Candidates need confidence and creativity when pitching to clients. Having the communication skills to talk to Architects about the clients demands, and research skills to find out how they can win this particular contract. Bid Management Teams are vital to long term successes of these companies and are the source of the income. Graduates going for these roles need to exhibit Customer Service and Sales skills, these could be evident from Retail or Hospitality part time jobs a candidate has had.

Architecture & Construction Case Study - The Miller Group

Case Study
Be eager to learn and don't be frightened. As a business, our graduates get quite a high amount of exposure to Directors from day one.

The Employer - Laura Lavin (Employment Development Advisor - The Miller Group)

Laura Lavin

Name: Laura Lavin
Job Title: Employment Development Advisor
University: Edinburgh College
Course: HR Management

What competencies do you like to see in candidates?

The main competencies that we look for and assess in our interview process are organisational skills, planning, communication and listening. We like to hear a little bit about them achieving success, what work experience they have gained, what they are most proud of along with their motivation and drive. This feeds into where they see themselves in the future and shows us what their career aspirations are.

Can you talk us through the application process?

We ask graduates to write a 250 word narrative on why they would be ideal to work for The Miller Group, along with a copy of their CV. They are then added to our database where we conduct an initial sift of the applications. We then invite successful candidates to complete an online verbal reasoning test. Depending on the result, we invite them for a telephone interview which usually lasts around 30 minutes. This is where we confirm their application details, explain in more detail our graduate frameworks and ask them some competency based interview questions.

For the Regional Technical Graduate framework, if they're successful in their telephone interview, their CV and details are passed on to the relevant Director for their preferred geographical area (if possible) and, depending on their view, they will be invited to participate in an hour long face-to-face general and behavioural interview as well as being asked to prepare a 5 minute presentation on a topic of our choosing.

What is the most common mistake you see in an application that leads to candidates being rejected?

We do get candidates who don't follow the instructions. We ask them to write a 250 word narrative about themselves and why they want to work for The Miller Group but there are a significant number of applications where this is not completed. Badly laid out CVs are never a good start with spelling and grammatical errors following a close second.

What is the main piece of advice you would give a graduate entering the sector?

Candidates need to show an interest in the industry and the company they're applying for. One of the main things for us is demonstrating that you have done your research on The Miller Group. We are impressed when someone can demonstrate they have a basic understanding of our business and not just reading from the website!

While we don't disregard candidates who do not have any work experience, it is beneficial if you can get some. It does not necessarily have to be related to the industry but shows that you are willing to gain different experiences.

Within our business, graduates gain a high amount of exposure to our Senior Management Teams and we encourage them to constructively challenge current processes and try to make every day a 'school day'. We want them to know that there’s no such thing as a silly question.

What's the main challenge graduates face when they start?

Some of the Group Business graduates struggle with the logistics. It can be a challenge in managing their placements as they are required to be UK mobile for two years and may have to move every six months. Whilst we give them each others contact details prior to them starting as well as details of our current graduates, starting a new job in a new location is always going to be challenging!

Where do you see the company in two years' time?

The Miller Group is benefiting from an improving external market, a strong leadership team and a solid financial base. All our graduates from 2011 are now in full time positions and we are confident that graduate recruitment will continue to be a key element of our talent pipeline.

If you weren't Training and Recruitment Manager, what would you be?

I'd quite like to be organising concerts and events for a big celebrity, ideally for Robbie Williams.

The Employee - Craig Orr (Group Business Graduate - The Miller Group)

Craig Orr

Name: Craig Orr
Course: Architectural Design
Graduation Year: 2012

How did you find your graduate job in Architecture and Construction sector?

I studied Architectural Design at University where I did my placement in a design department with another home builder, Mactaggart and Mickel. When I started looking for graduate jobs there wasn't a great deal out there, so I worked at the Energy Saving Trust for a year which proved to be a good experience where I gained key transferable skills and experience which I was able to demonstrate when I decided to apply for The Miller Group.

Why do you think you were successful at The Miller Group?

I was able to demonstrate through the application process that the skills I had gained from studying Architecture, my work placement and my work since University were all transferable. Being able to convey information clearly is critical and this came over in my CV, telephone interview and the Assessment Centre. Just being myself helped too!

What do you actually do?

I started off with Miller Construction working with Energy Consultancy and Facilities Management where I initially spent a lot of time taking in information, going to meetings, taking notes and asking questions. By the end of the placement I had produced various business materials including a new Corporate Responsibility Action Plan for that area of the business.

My next placement involved supporting the planning, management and costing of various lifecycle/small works jobs across 30 schools in Glasgow. This meant I also had to effectively manage both Miller operatives and various subcontractors which proved to be a great experience in actual management techniques.

For my third placement, I have recently joined Miller Developments which will give me the chance to get involved in projects at varying stages, from the purchase of land through to the sale of a finished development.

What skills do you need?

You need to be organised. The nature of the graduate scheme means you work with a lot of people and it's important that you're managing your own workload as well as prioritising what you need to deliver for others so that you don't fall behind on any of your projects.

Showing some initiative to raise my profile (for the right reasons!) throughout the business is also very important. There might be times when work may not always be piled on your desk, so if you see something interesting that you want to get involved in you have to go and ask about it.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is the variety of the work you have the opportunity to get involved in and the time scales involved in the various projects. You might be working on a project that is not going to be realised for a couple of months (or even years) then the next you’re working on something that needs delivered by the end of the day. This is particularly true in Miller Developments, where I am working in at the moment. One day I could be finishing up a project and the next day I could be on site at the start of another project or looking to submit planning applications.

What is the worst thing about your job?

The worst thing about my job is moving around. Due to the nature of the graduate framework it might be that you are only spending 6 months in a specific location. While it has definitely been a worthwhile experience and you are given support from other graduates and the business, it can sometimes be frustrating to not know where you might be in 6 months time.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I'd really like to stay with The Miller Group as I think it's a great company to work for and when I've spoken to Miller Group employees who have worked elsewhere they agree. I'd like to progress to a management role and hopefully help future graduates.

What advice would you give to graduates applying to The Miller Group?

I would tell them to be confident in their ability, they need to have the confidence in themselves to know they're good enough to fulfil that job. Also, I'd recommend they don't undersell themselves in anyway. Don't make assumptions about what interviewers know about you and make sure you have a list of the key information you want to get across either in the application form or at the interviews.

If you want to find out more about graduate jobs with The Miller Group, please take a look at their minisite.

Architecture & Construction Interview Ratings


    My initial telephone interview was with a member of their recruitment team which lasted 30 - 35 minutes. After a short introduction, we entered into the questions straight away. The first…


    I had an interview through an agency. I managed to get to the interview an hour late (I left Leicester and had planned my journey so that I could arrive to…


    I initially applied to be a Customer Service Rep on the phones, so went to the first stage of that. There, there was a maths test and a competency based questionnaire…


    There were three tasks on the day, after meeting and mingling with other candidates we were split up. We then completed a role play scenario presentation, an interview with a senior…


    My telephone interview lasted for half an hour and was with a lady from the Learning and Developing department. She was very sweet and offered to rephrase a question for me…


    My interview had been arranged after my CV/Portfolio had been sent to the head of the architecture department. Basically we went through my portfolio, and I had to go through and…


    My telephone interview followed passing a CV screening and verbal reasoning tests. This was conducted by the head of graduate recruitment in the company and lasted for 30 mins. This started…

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