"I did my research and when I saw the projects Mace was involved in, what they stood for and what they value, I had to apply!"
Fiona joined Mace’s Graduate Development Programme in September 2015 and works as part of the public sector team in our Manchester office. She plays a vital role helping to deliver some of the north-west's crucial healthcare infrastructure.
I studied geography and planning at university and led a student run social enterprise company. The position really highlighted my entrepreneurial flare and gave me insight into running and budgeting for project-based work.
When I graduated I went to work as a transport planner at a consultancy firm. I knew then that consultancy was the way forward but the work in this particular role was too technical and having always been a people person, the company didn’t really allow me to excel in what I’m good at. A year out travelling and temping really allowed me to better understand what I liked, what I wanted and what I was good at.
In December 2014 I came across Mace’s graduate scheme and, in particular, a project management role and got very excited as the job description matched my skill set!
I did my research and when I saw the projects Mace was involved in, what they stood for and what they value, I had to apply! The scheme stood out because I didn’t have a construction-related degree and I saw that the training sessions would help me with my role and technical understanding.
The Mace graduate scheme is a great way to kick start your career in a huge international company with an impressive international reputation. It’s also a really good way to get to know other colleagues and projects. It's helped me to discover gaps in my skill set that I never realised I had.
Mace is really clear from the beginning what is expected of you and what you can expect in return. There is regular training focusing on technical, legal, financial and managerial aspects of different roles within the company. There's also a lot of team work, including running your own ‘phantom’ project, which you then have to present in front of the Board. It’s a great way to get experience and gain visibility with very senior members of the business.
Being the volunteering lead within my region. I stood up on my own and presented our regional volunteering opportunities [all Mace employees are encouraged to take a day of paid leave to volunteer] in front of a Board director and the chief executive, as well as the whole of the north-west business.
Strong people skills and a positive mindset. Be organised and use your initiative. You need to have the ability to challenge others and put your own skills into action. Enthusiasm and passion for the industry are also incredibly important.
Sell your own strengths. Even if you think they don’t match fully with the job description, be confident in telling your assessors what you strive for. For instance, even if it’s just talking about how you arranged a friend’s holiday, there are so many transferable skills that you may not even realise.
Work experience is valuable even if it’s in a completely different role or industry – just remember to think about the transferable skills and link it back. This is similar on university tasks – marks on essays aren’t always as important as the way you worked together as a group is. Finally, show your enthusiasm and ambition and don’t be afraid to ask questions.