Alumna Iona Morrison obtained two degrees at RGU and is now working as a Project Manager in London. She shares her experience studying Architectural Technology and pursuing postgraduate studies in Construction Project Management to build her dream career.
Why did you decide to study Architectural Technology at RGU?
While at school, I always enjoyed the more practical subjects such as art, graphic communication, and craft and design. But I never had a clear career path throughout. While researching university degrees, I stumbled upon the Architectural Technology course when looking at the architectural design field. The course combined both design and structural concepts and was described as the ‘engineering of buildings’. This really built my interest.
At the time, there were numerous universities offering similar courses. However, after visiting the RGU campus, I knew straight away this was the right place for me. The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment is located on the Garthdee Campus, along the River Dee, and provides a natural environment to work in. The school was also in the process of moving to a brand new building. This meant that I was going to have access to up-to-date facilities and independent design studio spaces.
The university was also renowned for its graduate employability rate, which displayed the nature of teaching that would be provided.
Why did you decide to come back to RGU to study your Master’s degree in Construction Project Management?
Throughout my Architectural Technology degree, the course covered a wide variety of modules, demonstrating that construction is not just about design. A huge part of the industry is actually about people management. The course covered many different aspects of design, construction, engineering, economics, law and relationship management.
Understanding how to manage a team of people, with varying personality types, to successfully deliver a project really sparked my interest. I knew this was something I wanted to explore further in my career. I just wasn’t sure where to go.
After discussions with my lecturers, I realised there was a job out there that combined all of my passions and interests. That was project management! I decided to stay at RGU to further progress my studies. During my undergraduate course, I found the quality of teaching fantastic and felt the new facilities were safe and welcoming. I also wasn’t quite ready to leave Aberdeen just yet.
How do you feel your degrees have helped you in your career?
Currently, I am a Project Manager for AECOM in central London, where I have been for nearly 4 years now. I joined the graduate scheme straight after finishing my master’s degree. Since then, I have completed my professional chartership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. I have also recently received the title of ‘Best Young Woman in Construction’ by the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards!
I honestly feel none of that would have been possible without the skills I developed throughout my time at RGU. Although I am not working as an Architectural Technologist, I utilise the skills I learnt on a daily basis. For example by analysing and reviewing design drawings, assessing if the onsite construction is in line with design, developing project programmes, negotiating costs, and much more. Being able to understand the architectural detailed design is still a very important part of my role.
Both courses also provided accreditation by professional bodies. Without this accreditation, I would not have been able to achieve my RICS chartership as quickly as I have done, which demonstrates the high professional standards that RGU maintain.
I have also taken part in student engagement sessions with RGU to promote younger people into the industry. I feel this shows the commitment the University has to supporting people finding the right career path for them, and showcasing the endless opportunities that are available within the construction and engineering industry.
Do you have any advice for future RGU students?
It’s all about networking and getting your name out there. Involve yourself as much as you can outside of the course. Join sports clubs, volunteer, get work experience and use LinkedIn. The people you meet now will be the people developing their career at the same time you are. You never know who you might need to call upon in the future!
The construction industry is very fast paced, but my advice would be to not sit and wait for opportunities to come around. If you want to do something, be proactive about it and just ask and enjoy what the course can offer you.
If you also want to pursue postgraduate studies at RGU to pave the way for your dream career, visit our website. It’s never too late to invest in your future!