I’m Shani Merchant from Ealing.
I started my journey into construction via WIC (Women into Construction) which I first heard about through my local council. WIC is a non-profit organisation that helps to create more equality and diversity within construction, by encouraging more women to get into construction-based jobs.
I have always had an interest in construction, as architecture amazes me. I find it incredible that by being a part of construction, you are also becoming a part of society. You are helping to recreate the world that we live in. That might be developing new buildings or engineering, creating new links and routes across the country.
As a mum of four, I have struggled to find a job that can meet both my family needs and be able to commit to a role. This led me to feel as if I have been in limbo for a few years. I was unsure if I would be able to find something that I enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the many job roles construction has to offer. This then opened my mind into the prospect of starting a career here.
I got this work placement through WIC.
They ran a short employability course which helped to build CV skills and make my current CV more relevant to construction-based roles. I was then able to gain my CSCS card, which is needed for all site-based roles. We had speed interviews with several different construction companies. This led to my two week placement with Kimberley at VGC.
I worked for Kimberley McGinty, CSR manager, as her CSR assistant. CSR is something I had no knowledge of prior to my placement. I enjoyed learning about the role and what it entails.
When I began this role, I was more excited than nervous. I was made to feel very comfortable by Kimberley and Rebecca Parfitt, business support lead, who interviewed me. I was very pleased to be learning about a role I had little knowledge of, and to be working for people who made me feel part of the team.
The role is very diverse therefore kept me very engaged. There is a lot to learn!
The role is mainly office-based. However there are site visits involved, which keeps a nice balance of different working environments. During one of my days, I had the opportunity to visit Thames Tideway, which is a client of VGC. They are currently building a new sewage system to serve an increasing population. I got to briefly see some of the ongoing works. It was interesting seeing all the models and some of the machinery involved.
I improved my computer skills, such as Excel, which helped to build up my confidence to work independently. I learned how CSR fits in to ensuring that a company is inclusive and a reflection of its environment.
I originally wanted to apply for a different role within construction. However, I recommend going into the industry with an open mind, as there are many opportunities. You may find something else that is more suited to your personal life, or something else that you will find more interesting.