How to WIN a summer placement with Laing O'Rourke
If you want to get an internship with Laing O’Rourke – especially if you want the opportunity to work abroad – you should enter the TARGETjobs Construction and Engineering Undergraduate of the Year competition. If you win the award, you will go on an all-expenses-paid international summer placement in such locations as Australia and Dubai. You will also get to attend a swish awards ceremony, hosted by the likes of Fiona Bruce, where you can network with a whole host of graduate employers).
How to apply for the TARGETjobs Construction and Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award
The competition opens in October each year and closes at the end of January – those who get quality applications in early impress with their time management.
The stages of the application process are:
- online aptitude tests, devised in conjunction with CEB
- essay questions
- (sometimes) a telephone interview
- half-day assessment centre, which in the past has included a group exercise, an interview and a tour of a construction site.
Tips on answering the Laing O’Rourke application essay questions
Application question: ‘Please describe one innovation that you expect to see in the construction industry in the next ten years to support the sustainability agenda?’
Laing O’Rourke asks that the answer you submit to this question should be a maximum 500 words long. This may sound like a lot, but actually you will probably find that you have to be quite focused in order to fit everything in, as this is a ‘big’ question.
Start by thinking about how you would define the words ‘innovation’. Is an innovation something brand new or is it a tweak to a method, practice or technology already existing?
Laing O’Rourke is looking for an answer that focuses on an innovation that you would expect to see in the construction industry – not just one that you’d like to see. It also gives you a hint that you might want to cover why you would expect to see it: is there, or will there be, significant demand for it? What is this driven by? What challenge or problem does the innovation address? What effect will this innovation have? Remember that this question is directly assessing you against the requirement that you have ‘a keen interest in the construction industry, meaning you’ll be up to speed with the latest developments and newest techniques’.
In order to answer this question, you’ll definitely want to do some research. Your own course notes are a great place to start. You could also look at Laing O’Rourke’s contributions to thinking on sustainability. As well as reading Laing O’Rourke’s annual report, investigate the company’s Engineering Excellence Group and its Product and Processes Innovation. Take a look, too, at key initiatives followed at competitors, such as Skanska. And finally, look to the trade press for news stories on research and development that is ongoing – this may well hint at the trends for future innovation.
Application question: ‘What is your favourite project from the industry and why?’
This question gives you the chance to communicate your enthusiasm for the construction industry. It’s also quite specific to you, so you can showcase your personality and preferences. But how to pick a favourite project – and should it be a Laing O’Rourke project? The short answer is that it might be advantageous if it is, but it doesn’t have to be. The most important thing is that your answer is genuine. Your enthusiasm needs to shine through.
Obviously, you’ll want to spend time choosing the right project to write about – research is key. The media and trade press can be helpful sources of inspiration. You could also think back to any work experience you’ve done: the 2017 winner, Serena Gough, chose a project that inspired her to study civil engineering after doing some work experience at school. Her enthusiasm shone through. Or, of course, it could be a project that’s caught your eye in real life.
But whether your favourite project is a tiny eco-build in Scotland built to a tight budget, or an enormous skyscraper in Dubai constructed using the most innovative construction techniques, the most important part of your answer will be explaining why it is your favourite project. So make sure you choose something where you can talk in depth about what makes it noteworthy. Why does the project you’ve picked stand out from the crowd? Is it something about the difference that it makes for the end user, or about how it was designed or constructed?