Climbing up my construction career after graduating with a BSc in Surveying

RGU alumnus Lewis shares how his experience studying with us and going on placement has helped kickstart his career in construction and obtain a significant promotion just three years after graduating!

Can you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Lewis Strachan, and I am from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. After receiving my qualifications from Peterhead Academy in 2016, I enrolled in college with the intention of studying Mechanical Engineering. However, after becoming dissatisfied with my hasty school choice, I decided to pursue a course in Built Environment (HNC) after developing an interest in the construction industry.

Following the completion of my college course in 2018, I made my way to university. After reviewing the degrees available and my geographical location, RGU emerged as the clear choice. I finally settled on BSc (Hons) Surveying (Quantity Surveying), which exactly matched my skill set, and I completed my degree with an amazing set of results (7A’s & 1 B), earning a First-Class Honours Degree!

This has resulted in me prospering in my professional advancement within the construction industry, where I currently hold the positions of Quantity Surveyor and Assistant Estimator, just three years after graduating.

How was your time at RGU?

Due to the wonderful members of staff at RGU – particularly Michele Victoria, Temi Omotayo and Michael Dignan – I was provided with fantastic opportunities during my studies and learned so many valuable skills that have greatly aided me in my career and day-to-day tasks as a surveyor and estimator.

Having an interest in construction since college was only surpassed by the professional relationships I formed at university, resulting in an amazing friendship group that lasted long after graduation. If I had to select one event that led me to my present route, it would be the outstanding placement opportunity I was given as part of the curriculum in third year, which has allowed me to acquire this fantastic career opportunity with David Smith Contractors, at the time of writing.

Where are you now?

I continued to work with David Smith Contractors after graduating from RGU at the conclusion of the COVID-19 cycle owing to the success of my placement opportunity at RGU. I was hired as a Graduate Surveyor after finishing my degree and have since worked my way up to Quantity Surveyor and Assistant Estimator.

What is a typical day like working in construction?

My current duties include working as the lead QS on three projects totalling an average of £3 million. As an assistant estimator, I also estimate and value projects ranging from £250,000 to £20,000,000.

However, my typical day varies from real-life changes on the job site to receiving new tenders for a variety of projects. David Smith Contractors now focuses on foundation of packages such as Bulk Earthworks, Concrete Works, Drainage, Services, Hard Landscaping, and so on. More information about what we do can be found on our website!

What has been the highlight in your new role so far?

Since my arrival at David Smith Contractors, I have been exposed to countless opportunities and given enormous responsibilities, which has pushed and advanced me further than I imagined possible, especially in such a short amount of time.

If I had to select one highlight of my career, it would have to be the transition from helping on works to becoming the lead Quantity Surveyor on three jobs, one of which I assisted in pricing. Receiving these opportunities and responsibilities has given me a huge confidence boost.

How did your course at RGU help you for your graduate role in construction?

Several of the modules I studied have proven useful in my current position. The theory-based degree boosted my general understanding of the sector, allowing me to have a good foundation to learn from whenever given the opportunity.

I would certainly say that the placement opportunities offered to me were the primary source of my professional progress since they allowed me to apply all of my modules to day-to-day duties, increasing my general confidence and competence within the sector.

What advice would you give to students considering a career within the construction industry

I would emphasise the significance of playing to your strengths and not being afraid to admit any flaws you may have. Everything is a building block, and if you work with the opportunities the course can provide, this is a terrific industry to show yourself and flourish in. 

Lewis Strachan

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