Can you tell us a little bit more about your work and study life?

“I’m at the Technological University Dublin on a five-year part-time course. It’s one day a week at college, then four days a week working with Duke McCaffrey. In between semesters I have been working full-time.

It’s a privilege really because it’s more of an authentic way to study and learn. When you’re in college the conversation is very different with your lecturers, it’s more of a discussion rather than just sitting there being taught. It’s a really great way to learn and I wouldn’t change it for the world, I think the practical and academic approach is the best way to excel in any field.

How has it been with Duke McCaffrey?

The team are excellent to work with, I think Duke McCaffrey are probably one of the best and fastest growing firms at the minute. The support they give me in terms of work, college and on any other level is just fantastic, out of this world, I really enjoy working with them. I’m going into my third year in college now and I’ve been with Duke McCaffrey for just over two years.

Which department do you work in at the moment?

I work in the quantity surveying department and my job title is Assistant Cost Manager. I’ve particularly liked the last couple of months as I had been acting in supporting roles, but lately I’ve taken a bit of a shine to it and I’ve been awarded some lead roles and projects. The team are happy with me and I’m happy with them so it’s going good at the minute, very full on.

Had you been working from home as well?

Yeah, I’ve been working from home for a good part of the pandemic. Over the last two or three months I’ve been in and out of the office so on a face-to-face basis, maintaining social distance and following all the protocols and advice. But, you know, we’re starting to get back into a certain sense of normality. The return is slow, but it is happening and it’s a much better environment in the office because I can bounce questions off people. Back at home everything took a long time, but we got through it.

Were you studying from home as well, or going into classes?

Yes, I was studying from home, it was a completely online academic term. There were no in-person classes, no theory or practical, everything was done remotely. There were exams, which meant that the lectures were pre-recorded, so it was a YouTube video for some lectures, others were just on Teams. It probably wasn’t the best way and I certainly would have preferred to be in college. It’s hard to learn new subjects in a non-educational environment but, that being said, if you put your mind to it you can do anything.

Are you the only one in the team doing this sort of course at the moment?

Yes, I’m the first person Duke McCaffrey hired to do the part-time course. They have had some students in on placement, which is the more common approach when you’re on the full-time course. When you’re in year three or four, you do six-month placements. There have been some students on that basis temporarily, but I’m the first they hired straight out of secondary school with no construction experience. They took a big of a leap of faith with me, but I like to think it paid off.

So will you be there for the full five years?

I will be with Duke McCaffrey for the full five years and then post-graduation I will stay with them as well, they have invested in me, so I feel it is important that I give something back.  But more than that I really like it here!

Would you recommend the path you’ve taken to others like you?

I would, wholeheartedly. It’s full on and some days there are long hours and late nights but it is most definitely worth it. Overall, the experience I’m gaining with the team, particularly at Duke McCaffrey, is phenomenal. When I go to meetings, I get talking to professionals from other companies and they are always a bit taken aback when I tell them I’m 20.

It’s all down to the structure of the course and how you learn at college and then at work. You practice certain tasks in work and then learn about it in college. You learn certain things in college, and when you see it at work and apply it in real life, that’s how you progress and excel, then it’s just copy, paste, repeat.

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