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James Fincham

BSc Construction Management

Placement with DSM Demolition Group


“Whilst in my second year at Aston I applied to over 50 companies offering placement opportunities for students. However due to the huge competition, the majority of companies didn’t respond, but it’s important not to give up and ensure you keep a positive attitude. So when I was invited to an interview with DSM I was extremely encouraged and very happy when they offered me the placement, especially as I would be directly working with the company on the demolition of the old Aston University student residencies.

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Before joining Aston University I worked in construction as a labourer, however I decided to go to University to study construction as I wanted to take the next step from being a labourer on a site to managing projects, taking control and using my initiative. For this reason the role within DSM represented the perfect position for me. DSM is a small company but undertakes large scale demolition projects so there was a huge learning curve from studying construction at University to learning how to plan a large scale demolition of a building.

The first two months of my placement were spent in the office learning the ropes and setting up jobs for the demolition. I was involved in various tasks such as creating drawings/plans and undertaking site visits. This whole work experience has provided me with a wider picture of the role of demolition, and the notable highlight of the placement has to be causing legal destruction. It gave me a real sense of achievement working towards the demolition of the buildings and finally seeing it all collapse. But the work doesn’t end there after the buildings were demolished we then had to plan for the ground to be re-engineered to ensure its stability for future developments.

I found the work really enjoyable and the placement has highlighted a real area of interest for me, which I would not necessarily have considered before. The type of work I undertook with DSM certainly now represents the area I would like to continue with as a profession.

Advice I’d give to current students looking for a placement would be to apply sooner rather than later, don’t leave it too late to see what else is out there. Also it’s not always the big companies you need to necessarily look out for as you might find that a smaller company would suit your personality and needs more. Finally make sure you make full use of the University’s student support facilities, especially for CV and interview help.”

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research