Graduate stories – Jai Bray

Jai graduated from Building Surveying BSc(Hons). She won the Hays Building Surveying prize as the Building Surveying student who has produced the best overall performance in their final project.

  • What made you choose Brighton and this course?

I am a mature student who already had an established life in Brighton. I know lots of people who studied at the University of Brighton (UoB) and loved it, including my boyfriend who completed the same degree! My boyfriend graduated just a few months after we became an item, I was an estate agent but looking for more and he supported me into finding the correct course. I had always had an interest in property and construction, but I hadn’t been exposed or educated in my options. Unfulfilled as an estate agent I looked into courses that were both creative architecturally but gave me a technical understanding, I wanted a career with variety, and I wanted to see a project from inception to completion. I considered commuting to a London University, after much research and attending lots of open days I was pleased that the BSc (Hons) Building Surveying degree at UoB was the one that excited me the most. The employment rate after completion of the course was also very important factor and UoB’s was very impressive.

  • How did you feel when you were first accepted to Brighton, and how has the reality compared to what you imagined?

I felt very accepted at UoB, I was lucky that due to the nature of my course there were several mature students. The course students bonded and no matter what anyone’s age everyone was caring and supported one another. First year was very busy and slightly overwhelming but it prepared me to excel in the rest of my degree. We worked together with the lecturers to adapt the teaching timetable which meant many of us were able to maintain part time jobs within the industry.

  • What were the highlights of your course?

I really enjoyed the practical nature of the modules and the variety of knowledge and skills I gained over the course of the degree.  I felt the coursework helped me to apply my learning and conduct further in-depth research to produce solid proposals. I don’t really have a highlight it was more an appreciation of my developed experience.

  • Would you recommend your course? What in particular would you recommend?

Yes, I would definitely recommend this course. You get out of it what you put in, lecturers like Dr Philip Ashton are integral to the success of this course –  he is an inspiring and hardworking role model. If you want a degree that will lead you into thriving industry with plenty of career prospects, then join the Built Environment! I would recommend taking option modules that genuinely interest you but also try to diversify your skillset. I really enjoyed the design modules which helped with me to approach the planning and analysis modules more logically.

  • What has coming to Brighton done for you, both as a student and as a person?

I have lived here since I was 10 and I have always loved it! Brighton is the best city in the UK, vibrant, accepting and full of experiences.

  • Tell us about your experience of teaching and support staff.

Lecturers with industry experience were hugely beneficial as they pulled from real life experience to give us practical examples. It isn’t all about text books it is also about what you can absorb from the people around you. I will have fond memories of several of the teaching team Phil Ashton is an asset to the University the place wouldn’t be the same without him, Della Madgwick and Hannah Wood were a great support network, their down to earth attitudes and sensible outlook on how to approach life really taught me how to take things in my stride. Success doesn’t have to come with stress.

  • Can you tell us a bit about your role on your placement?

I chose a wildcard for my placement, I was studying Building Surveying but being new to the industry I wanted to see what else was out there, I went to work for Willmott Dixon Interiors as an Operations Trainee. I worked on a £100m project in the centre of London and was one of a large team but was fortunate to have a supportive Construction Manager who saw my passion and gave me the responsibility of managing the third floor fit out with my mentor. The role involved lots of activities but day to day I was creating short terms programmes, motivating progress, managing health & safety and implementing design changes. The experience was invaluable and working for Willmott Dixon Interiors was a lot of fun.

  • What aspects did you find the most interesting and the most challenging?

I enjoyed learning construction techniques and building pathology and how to apply this to design. I also found contract law and administration really interesting, a large part of my graduate role will revolve around this. I really struggled with the civil engineering modules in first year and Building Services, maths was never my strength, so this was difficult. There were additional support sessions and seminars which I made use of but support from my peers also really helped.

  • How did you put what you learned in lectures into practice during your placement?

Construction Methods & Technology was ideal for my placement I really drew a lot from that including planning, construction materials and health and safety.  I took a lot from different modules, I just got stuck in and communicated with the people around me.

  • What are the main things you will take from the experience?

Work hard, make use of the support you have around you and have a little self-belief. A positive attitude will lead to a positive outcome. I learnt how to research and how to apply my knowledge effectively a bit of advice would be always work to the marking criteria!

  • How do you plan to use your experience and course in the future?

I work for a local firm MacConvilles Surveying as a Graduate Building Surveyor I am signed up to and the RICS APC scheme and working towards becoming chartered. I have also looked at some of the MSc courses at UoB as it would be nice to combine specialist knowledge in technical construction but learn more about architectural design and/or planning to develop a complimentary skillset.

  • Can you give an example of a person, a lesson or something that happened that made you glad you’d come to study at Brighton?

My career! Coming out of UoB I feel secure and confident in what my future holds. Financially, attending university straight after college was not viable but attending just a few years later than what is traditionally expected, I had so much more focus and determination. I have developed as a person and I am ready to become a respected professional representing the UoB as an alumna.

  • What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying for this course / this university?

Do it. If you are looking for a pathway into a secure career with a lot of opportunities it is the best thing you could do. I would advise you do it at a time when you are prepared to put the work in as I have said previously you get out of it what you put in.

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