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Insights Why your transferable skills are more valuable than you think

My name is Oliver Richards, a fourth-year Building Surveyor graduate at AtkinsRéalis in the Project and Programme Services team. My role spans diverse aspects of property and construction, from overseeing mixed-use developments to working on heritage building conservation. I work across residential, commercial, and education sectors, providing technical advice, managing design and construction projects, and ensuring the highest professional standards in building surveying.

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Getting into Building Surveying

My pathway to building surveying hasn't been the most straightforward but rather a long and winding one, with some diversions along the way. From leaving school at 16 to learning a trade as a joiner and carpenter to moving into oil and gas, nothing gives me as much job satisfaction as the construction industry.

A grass-roots taste of construction

In 2000, at 16, I found myself on a building site in Perthshire for the first time, working as a laborer for a local joinery firm. It soon became apparent that this could become a real career for me, so I spent many years learning the trade, gaining a solid work ethic that's stayed with me.
After a few years, I decided to try something new. Trying various practical and technical roles from steel fabrication to electromechanics, but as it turned out, the grass wasn't any greener.

Looking for something different in my career

Fast forward to 2020, and another challenge arose – the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, my wife was also pregnant with our second child. Not being able to work safely and feeling the ever-growing pressure of lockdown, I needed a new challenge. I started thinking about how best to pull together everything I had learned over the years and transfer those skills into a new role.

Using the time to gain new knowledge

After a few conversations with Robert Gordon University, I secured a place on the Building Surveying course. Returning to higher education at the age of 35 for me was a daunting task. I had a young family to look after, and I wasn't entirely sure if I could juggle family life, work, and study. It was a risk, but a risk worth taking.

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Considering AtkinsRéalis for my graduate placement

By the end of my second year of university, the opportunity for a work-based placement came my way. I knew that AtkinsRéalis is one of the world's most respected consultancies, and if I wanted a great head start in my career, I would get one here. After friendly conversations and meetings, I secured a position at AtkinsRéalis with the Project and Programme Services team in Aberdeen.

Your placement isn't just about getting work experience. It's about investing in your future. You'll discover what you're capable of, hone your skills, and build a base for a successful career.

Getting hands-on from day one!

In my first month with AtkinsRéalis, I met the team and soon headed out on my own to do some defect analysis. I haven’t looked back since. I’ve enjoyed working on a plethora of projects; each bringing a new set of challenges and opportunities to further my experience whilst leveraging my knowledge to contribute to each projects’ success. I look forward to the future and I'm excited about the many opportunities ahead.

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