From Bachelor of Design to Multiplex Construction

Claire Woodward was studying her first year of the Bachelor of Design when she landed her first job in the construction sector. We caught up with her to learn about her experiences so far and to find out her tips for balancing study and work.

Claire Woodwood
Why did you choose to study the Bachelor of Design?
Initially it was overwhelming deciding which university to go to and which course to study. But the Bachelor of Design brought together all of the features I was looking for in a course. I was able to do a double major without adding any time onto my degree, I could do an exchange (which most universities don’t offer for architecture) and get a degree at a highly accredited university.

What major(s) did you choose? 
I am studying a double major in Architecture and Construction Management. These were always the majors I intended on studying when I applied for a Bachelor of Design.

You have been working for global construction company Multiplex since July 2018. How did you come across this opportunity? I applied for Multiplex’s cadetship program in March 2018 through their online application form and was lucky enough to be successful after a few stages of interviews and tests. Since then I have started working on 472 Bourke Street which is a Hilton hotel development that includes the restoration of the heritage Equity Chambers building.

Can you give us an overview of what’s involved in your typical work day? 
Currently, I have been given the role of Document Controller and Internal Heritage Coordinator. I ensure any new documents are printed and issued to all the subcontractors. I also have to review the documents and make comments on any errors or inconsistencies I notice before passing them around the rest of the team to do the same. I also run heritage meetings with all the Consultants (architects, heritage consultants, fire engineers etc.) and keep track of all the coordination issues that need to be resolved. I then get to put these resolutions together into a presentation to give to Heritage Victoria for approval.

This means on a typical day I will review documents, have meetings with consultants, and head out on site to see the progress of the work. The best part of my current position is that because it is a smaller job I get to take more ownership of my role and try a few different tasks.

How do you balance your study with work? 
During the semester I work two to three days a week and then go up to full-time during university holidays. I also cut back to three subjects per semester to help manage my work and study. This just helped take some of the extra pressure off while I was trying to find my feet in the new job. At times the long hours and hard university work was challenging but my job was very flexible and Multiplex allowed me to rearrange my days if needed, or to take a day off when it got too busy.

Multiplex really understand that university should be the priority, and are very supportive. Also, as I got used to the job I was able to get better at fitting in study around it, and getting into more of a rhythm as the semester continued.

Do you find that your studies complement your working life and that your work complements your studies?
By working in the industry associated with my degree, I am able to put into practice the skills I am learning through the Bachelor of Design. It has also enabled me to test out whether or not this is the right career path for me, and given me the opportunity to begin my professional career. It has been great to learn on the job too and will be interesting in the future to see how I can implement these skills in my studies.

What are some of the skills you have learnt while studying the Bachelor of Design?
I have refined my drawing and presentation skills, I have learnt how to use many new digital programs and I have become more confident giving oral presentations.

More generally, I have had practise producing work to a higher standard, managing my time better during the semester and how to seek help from tutors and lecturers when needed.

What was the highlight of your first year at university?
My highlight was definitely the friends I made. I have met so many new people from a range of different courses and backgrounds and they are now my closest friends. On top of this I have thoroughly enjoyed all my subjects. After taking some time off after high school I was really ready to begin studying again and found a course that is exactly what I wanted. Finally, of course just being a part of the university culture and social life.

What advice would you give to students who are just about to begin university?
I would recommend putting yourself out there in the first month or so of university. Make the most of O-week, go on a camp, even if it isn’t with your faculty or if you don’t know anyone. That is how I made my closest friend group and it makes it so much easier when you have people around uni.

Make the most of your tutorials as they are much smaller, so you have the opportunity to meet people doing your course and talk through different challenging concepts. I love how design subjects are taught in a studio environment, making it easier to get close with fellow students as you spend a lot of time together in a casual classroom setting.