Well, the first thing is to decide is if you want to carry on being academic and do a Master’s! However, I’d argue strongly against the idea! And that is based on more subtle reasoning than you not getting lumbered with even more student debt!
What became evident, as I did my Master’s, was that the new post-grads simply didn’t have the more detailed construction background and knowledge to cope and make sense of it.
Not a single one qualified! And yes even the ones with a Construction Management degree!
Put it off for a few years! What does that leave you with?
Well, getting a job! Towards that end, the first move is to get a good CV together. For that the first thing to do is to overcome natural modesty and learn to “emphasise the positive” or, in plain English, boast! I’m not going to go into any details on CV writing except to say that to come up with a decent one should take you 2 or 3 days! If you’ve never done one at this level, there are plenty of web sites to give you templates and advice. Once you’ve got your first draft, get constructive criticism from someone who knows about CV-writing – and be prepared to re-write it!
So what kind of a job should you go for? You might have a strong preference of your own for career direction. Site-based; office based; Local Authority; private sector; main contractor; sub-contractor; M&E; build; fit-out; civils?
Long list, isn’t it? However, times are hard, so you’ll be applying for jobs by the score, many of which you originally thought you weren’t interested in! You’ll get some Interviews and most of them will result in “Sorry, but …” Before you get the first one, though, look into interview techniques and have some answers up your sleeve! Make sure you dress as formally as your budget will allow.
Interviews themselves seem to fall into two categories; those organised by HR departments and the far more informal ones run by the guys you’d actually be working for. You have to be ready for interrogation under both systems! If they do want a presentation from you as an opener you will be warned of that. Practice your speech and take prompt cards in with you so you can use them if you get stage fright!
Right, you’ve got a job!
The first, single most important thing to realise is that you know “nothing from nowt” as Northerners say!
You may have a degree, but you have no specialised knowledge, particularly of that work place. For the first week at least, keep your mouth closed except to ask sensible questions. Listen and learn. That also allows your new work mates to get to know you and decide you are a nice person, not an opinionated pr*ck!
The next thing is particularly applicable if you find you are on a construction site. Realise that the skilled trades know far more about the aspects of their job than you – or I – ever will! Ask politely and they will be happy to carry your education forward. Treat them as underlings and you’ll have a hard time of it, on top of which you’ll get subtle, defective workmanship which you’ll never be able to detect!
Dress has already been mentioned in connection with your Interview. You’ll have got some idea of what is the norm from when you attended that. Do your best to comply from Day 1. Realistically, your budget might not immediately run to that, but do your best! A traipse round Charity Shops may provide you with suitable clothing that falls within your budget. If you are going on site you’ll need protective and Hi-Vis clothing. Most will probably be provided by your new employer. The most important thing though is footwear! Make sure you get shoes or boots with steel mid-soles! That is the voice of hard experience! Unscrewing a screw from your foot before you can take your shoe off is painful!
Good luck in your new job, whatever it is!