Rachel had her sights set on becoming a teacher. But a lack of opportunities led her to seek out a completely new and different career in an industry where she could apply her skills and experience.
She has joined the Solomons apprenticeship programme as an Assistant Quantity Surveyor and will be based at our Papcastle Depot offices, near Cockermouth, as part of our Cumbria team.
How have you found it so far?
It’s been really exciting. When you step through the door here it’s like stepping into another world as Quantity Surveying is completely new to me. But I really like that, and everyone’s been supportive, friendly and welcoming. I’ve only been here a few weeks, but I already feel part of the community.
Tell us more about what you did before joining the apprenticeship programme?
I studied a degree in Law with French and post graduate PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages at the University of Chester. I did my teacher training through the covid pandemic, which was difficult, but after my first placements in Chester and North Wales, I got the opportunity to come home to Maryport and work at my old school, Netherhall School. It was fun hearing my old teachers calling me “miss”! When I qualified, I started looking for jobs, but there was nothing around. I was floating in the abyss, thinking to myself “I have these degrees but don’t know what to do with them!” I was generally looking for any jobs in the Workington and Whitehaven area when I came across this opportunity at Solomons.
Why Quantity Surveying?
I didn’t know what a Quantity Surveyor did. When I looked it up on the internet, I saw it was basically a lawyer and an accountant rolled into one, which I thought could be interesting given my degree. I thought to myself, “I could learn this”, and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing on this programme.
The job advert felt so personal. When I read it, I genuinely got excited and thought “this is for me!”. When I looked at the website, social media accounts and so on, I got the feeling there’s a real community here and that I’d really fit in. I love the fact it’s an SME, it means you really can know everyone’s name. People are always around to help and there’s no such things as a silly question. You can chat to anyone about health, wellbeing or anything else. I love that.
Now you’ve started the apprenticeship, where do you think you’ll get, do you have any targets?
For me, it’s being part of the bigger picture. It isn’t so much about being able to point at something and say, “I helped build that”, but look at what that building is doing for the area when it comes to supporting jobs, apprentices, and more. There’s a lot going on, particularly around Sellafield, and things are moving quickly in the construction industry. I can’t wait to get stuck in – I want to help make a difference.
What do you do in your spare time?
At the moment it’s mainly been reading up on everything related to the apprenticeship programme! But, apart from that I like to crochet and enjoy reading. I like going back and reading books I’ve already read in English, in French. I like Gothic horror, so Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde. I find the genre really interesting.