We all know how important it is to gain work experience while studying for a degree. According to CIPD, two thirds of employers look for candidates with relevant hands-on experience. However, it is really challenging to find a job while trying to maintain balance between work and studies. Quartz recognises this and supports students to help them gain industry experience as a stepping point in their life long career. Here is an interview with Phoebe who has been a Project Assistant at Quartz for 2 years now while studying to complete her post-graduate degree:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself ?
I graduated from Newcastle University with a First in Architecture in 2018, however decided that becoming a designer wasn’t for me. I took a year out post degree and went on a ski season. I joined Quartz the following summer in June 2019 as an Assistant Project Manager. Although becoming an Architect wasn’t for me, I still loved buildings and construction and thought that the more managerial aspect of construction would be better suited to me. I started my postgraduate course at Westminster University Reading in Construction Project Management in September 2019 (part-time course, split over two years).
How do you manage both your studies and the workload at Quartz?
With a lot of difficulty haha! It is unbelievably hard work trying to balance the two. I find that I have to work late most evenings and almost every weekend, both days to fit my Masters work around Quartz.
How has working at Quartz helped you in your studies?
I have found that a lot of the content of my masters work are around topics and subjects that I deal with on a daily basis as part of my Quartz work and so in this sense, my work at Quartz has been very helpful for my degree. Conversely, my masters studies have really helped fill in a lot of blanks in my learning at Quartz.
Can you give us an example of when you have felt supported by your colleagues during a busy and challenging time in your studies?
There have been a number of occasions when I have had to take annual leave to complete certain bits of coursework or revise for exams etc. Quartz have always been very accommodating when I need to take time away from work to do this.
Does Quartz take any initiatives to manage the work- life balance of employees? If so, how have these initiatives affected you?
Employees have to answer a workload questionnaire every Friday that provides us with the opportunity to alert our Directors to whether we have too much on our plate (or not enough as well). Our POD calls also provide us with the same opportunity.
Which factors played a role in your success, both at work and university?
Being organised and disciplined about just getting the work done and trying to stay on top of all of it. Don’t leave things until the last minute! Trying to manage my stress has been very difficult over the last two years and is a constant effort on my part (still not very good at it).
Thank you Phoebe and look forward to your continued progress and success at Quartz!