How to WIN a summer placement with Laing O'Rourke

One of the ways to get an internship with Laing O’Rourke is to win the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year competition. If you are chosen as the Construction Engineering and Design Undergraduate of the Year, you will win an international summer placement on one of Laing O’Rourke’s projects overseas (and, incidentally, you also get to attend a swish awards ceremony hosted by the likes of Fiona Bruce and to network with a whole host of graduate employers).

Find out more about the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Award competition.

Applying for the Construction Engineering and Design 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 three stages of the application process are:

  1. online aptitude tests, devised in conjunction with CEB SHL Talent Measurement
  2. essay questions
  3. a half-day assessment centre, which will include a group exercise and an interview.

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 minimum of 100 words and 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 quite 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?

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 research 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, and research employers that you know are interesting. Or it could be a project that’s caught your eye in real life, like the Gherkin in London or a big public building where you live.

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?

Laing O’Rourke asks for an answer that is a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 300 words – even more concise than the first question. The judges will be looking for a focused answer here, so read it through with an eye to cutting out any ‘waffle’ before you finalise your answer.

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