Think Work Experience Is All Making Coffee & Doing Photocopying? Think Again!

Think construction work experience is just mind-numbing filing and fetching teas and coffees for your colleagues while they do all the really interesting stuff? Think again!

We spoke to three of our work experience students about their placements here at Sarah and this is what we learned…

Real construction work experience, not just filling time

When you do work experience at Sarah, you get exactly that: Work experience, generally speaking in a Project Assistant role.

Sarah Project Assistants are superb multi-taskers and enthusiastic team players, responsible for establishing and managing project administrative and quality control systems.

Acting as the right hand man or woman to the Project Manager, the Project Assistant provides proactive administrative support across all levels of the project, on-site and off, and is a hugely valuable member of the team.

It’s the ideal role through which ambitious students can expand their technical and administrative knowledge of the complexities of construction, because Project Assistants are across all aspects of the project, from estimating and contract administration right through to programming and client services.

“I enjoyed being included in site meetings, site walks and in discussions with subcontractors, engineers and architects,” said Jarred Robinson, who spent 3 months with Sarah Constructions back in 2016 and hopes to get into Project Management, Site Engineering or Project Engineering once he’s completed his studies.

“The most important thing I learned at Sarah was people skills.”

Jarred’s work experience at Sarah allowed him to get real, on the job training:

“I was learning while I was doing… My daily tasks included assisting the site teams with maintaining RFI registers, keeping site drawings up to date, general labour work, following up and organising quotes from subcontractors. I also helped the Project Managers with whatever tasks they needed doing.”

Liam Jagielski took a construction work experience placement at Sarah while studying Engineering at the University of Adelaide and really found his feet in construction, enjoying the diversity of responsibilities it provides:

“Because the role entails assisting the Project Team with anything they require, there was a diverse range of jobs that came across my desk. The responsibilities I had on-site included ensuring adequate safety signage was displayed, taking daily progress photos, providing quotes within budget, and developing minutes after every meeting.”

“Upon completion of my studies, I am happy to work in any career in the Civil Construction field, whether that be as a Project Assistant, Project Manager or similar,” Liam said.

Cookie Nguyen echoed the sentiments of her colleagues:

“My training and on the job learning at Sarah was very hands on. Often I would be thrown in the deep end with tasks to complete. This helped develop my problem solving skills and made me take initiative for my learning. Being on-site, I was able to witness the construction process, which gave me a greater understanding beyond pure theory. The on-site construction team was very supportive; always willing to share their knowledge and experience with me and encouraging me to ask questions.”

Investment in tomorrow’s construction experts

At Sarah, we put people first. We’re committed to investing in South Australian futures, and that starts well before you’re a Sarah employee.

Alicia Cirillo, who oversees construction work experience placements at Sarah, explains: “We know how important it is to show students what a career in construction is really like, so Sarah work experience placements are designed to be hands on. It’s more engaging for students and it’s far more useful for us.”

“This isn’t just a box ticking exercise for Sarah; construction work experience placements are hugely valuable to our business,” says Terry Tsapaliaris, Construction Manager at Sarah. “We’re investing in the construction experts of the future and, at Sarah, we’re able to give them insight into the broad range of disciplines within the industry, which can provide fulfilling careers for ambitious, dedicated young men and women.”

The building blocks for career success

So, if you’re thinking about a career in construction, or considering studying engineering, architecture or construction, why not speak to us about doing work experience at Sarah?

“Sarah work experience placements are designed to be hands on. It’s more engaging for students and it’s far more useful for us.”

Make sure you give yourself the best kickstart to your construction career, like Cookie did:

“My understanding of the complexities related to project management grew immensely. I gained valuable insight into the coordination of subcontractors, cost and budgeting and programming. Beyond this, I learned how to work and contribute in a professional and demanding environment. That is, how to manage my time well, how to communicate with other professionals and how to interpret construction drawings.”

If you think construction is just about hammering nails and pouring concrete, you might be surprised, like Liam was:

“The most important thing I learned at Sarah was people skills. A large portion of the work done by the project team involves outside companies, so the importance of client and subcontractor relations cannot be overstated.”

And remember, it’s a competitive market out there, so don’t get left behind. Get some valuable construction work experience. Be like Jarred:

“Be confident, ask lots of questions and be yourself. Everyone at Sarah is very willing to help you learn and grow.”

And the best thing about construction work experience at Sarah? There’s the chance that it could lead to a position on the Sarah Graduate Program. As it did for Mandy – read her story about what it’s like to be a young woman working in construction.

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