We caught up with BSc Construction Project Management student and winner of the Women in Property Student Awards Nicole to speak to her about her experience at Aston and what the future holds...

What was your reason to study at Aston University?

I chose Aston University because of how highly rated student satisfaction was at the university -which I believe is critical for effective learning. When provided with the possibility to study Construction Project Management (CPM), I realised the high educational level of the degree, which prompted me to choose the university as it had strong academic standards. Finally, the location and the opportunity to attend university in the city itself drew me in since I wanted to have the experience of living in the city while also having access to all of the fantastic activities and food that living in the city could provide me.

What drew you to study Construction Project Management?

I didn't know much about the degrees available in the built environment sector, but after Aston University gave me the chance and explained what the degree entailed, I knew it was the one I wanted to pursue. I wasn't always sure and wasn't quite convinced about other degrees to study in the field, but CPM spoke to me, and I'm pleased I learned about it and I am able to pursue it as a career. The ability to work on projects with a wide range of stakeholders has highlighted the importance of project managers in construction for success and it is what has kept me interested in CPM throughout the years.

How would you describe the community here?

The people in Aston are wonderful! I was incredibly excited to meet people from all around the world. It has been fantastic to learn so much about many cultures from Aston University students. I've really appreciated how warm and polite everyone has been, especially as an international student.
Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities?

In my second year, I founded the B.E.S.T (Built Environment Student) society within the Civil Engineering department. We were able to bring together some students from the department as a new society so that additional students could get to know each other. This year, the society hopes to grow and become more established in order to provide more academic events where all students can exchange information and assist one another.

What has been the most rewarding project you have worked on?

I was given the opportunity to participate in the Women in Property Award. My tutor nominated me for this opportunity, and I decided to take it. I participated in a regional award, where one student from each university in the region presented coursework completed throughout the academic year, followed by an interview with industry representatives. After a few months, the regional winner would be announced. Successfully I won the award for the region and was able to advance to the Best of the Best awards. This was the final step, in which all of the regional winners would be interviewed by other professionals, and a winner would be chosen. This was a life-changing experience, not only did I get to meet so many individuals in the field, allowing me to  expand my network, but I also learned so much about the industry and made new friends along the way.
What are your thoughts on Women in Engineering?

It's amazing how the industry is evolving and how many women are pursuing engineering degrees. Witnessing the incredible talent and viewpoints that women bring to engineering is amazing. I met some extremely brilliant and distinctive women from the construction industry at the Women In Property Award, and it was fantastic to talk to them, swap stories, and discuss the industry. It's great to watch how the stereotype that engineering is only for men is eroding as more and more women enter the field. I believe the increment of women in engineering is essential for further improvement in engineering industries.
How has the course prepared you for your future career?

This course has prepared me very well for my future career. The emphasis on group work has increased my communication and teamwork skills, which are two of the most critical skills and abilities required that are currently lacking in the field.

Aston has helped me prepare for professional employment by teaching me how to approach problems at work in a professional manner. Studying CPM has given me the opportunity to network with industry through study trips and industry presentations, which have been invaluable in learning how to connect with industry professionals once I begin applying for my degree.

What advice would you give to other students looking to study Construction?

Be open to communicating with students, the construction sector is all about teamwork and so is the coursework in the degree as this will prepare us for how the industry works. Joining societies, and clubs such as the B.E.S.T society, are great networking opportunities. Also, learn how to manage your time, the industry requires a lot of time and effort as several tasks or changes in tasks occur daily so make sure to stay on top of the coursework assigned. Finally, enjoy it -The sector is very interesting and lecturers are very open to letting you explore those topics that interest you!