PROFILE:

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Get first hand experiences and stories
from some of our most recent graduates.

Alex Palmer

What's your job about?

Probuild is a National company which is recognised for its work predominantly in the large scale commercial, retail and high end high density residential sector. As a head contractor Probuild works with the client, the architect, consultants and engineers as well as the subcontractors and suppliers.

My role, as a Probuild graduate involves an assortment of tasks and procedures depending on the module being undertaken. The Probuild modules are broken up into relevant sectors of the construction industry whether it be estimating costs on how much future projects will cost, to assessing the safety on site and working on a live project.

I’ve just completed my first rotation in the site co-ordination role. I got a lot of exposure on site; it’s a fast paced role, and you get the opportunity to meet a lot of the trades and co-ordinate quality and safety on site.

I’m currently undertaking my Contract Administration module which involves receiving and processing payments for all of the subcontractors, suppliers and consultants. Some of the tasks I’m involved with include being able to forecast costs, assess payments and oversee progress claims. Each of the modules which you partake in are also related to a lot of the course work completed at Uni. But as cliché as it is, the best learning happens out on the field!

In addition to on site and office work, all the grads get extra training sessions, excursions, leadership camps and other openings to further develop their understanding of the industry, develop their leadership skills and get involved in opportunities which may not be available at other companies. For example Probuild have established some great initiatives including community builds.

What's your background?

I grew up in Geelong with my family. It was here that my love for architecture and travel began. I had many opportunities throughout high school to travel overseas and explore the diversity of cultures. Consequently these experiences helped me to develop independence, confidence and open-mindedness.

For my final years of schooling I completed the International Baccalaureate (IB), something which on reflection I’m stoked I partook. It taught me to make deadlines, have an eagerness to learn and push boundaries. It is also where I began to recognise and pursue my fascination with architecture and the built environment.

I started my university degree immediately after school in a bachelor of Architecture at Deakin University in Geelong. I completed the first year when I realised the need for a greater practical understanding which could be gained by completing a double degree with construction management. Consequently this digression lead me to working in the construction industry for a construction company in Geelong. I took the opportunity to do a study trip to Germany in my 3rd year of university for 3 months, something I regret I didn’t do more of when I got the chance. If your Uni offers exchange, try and make the most of it, you’re able to get funding too.

At the prospect of finishing my double degree at the end of 2015 I sought advice from my Uni careers advisor as I was worried that not applying instantaneously for Grad positions might limit my likelihood of getting a Graduate role a year later. Consequently I took all suggestions on board and booked my flights as soon as I completed my final exams. I spent the following 12 months travelling in an assortment of countries. This time faced me with many different challenges and learning experiences. I applied for a Graduate position at Probuild whilst overseas, they were flexible and allowed me to complete my interviews from the other side of the world!

 

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, why not! Within my exposure in the construction industry thus far, I’ve met many kinds of people some of which previously worked in jobs of quite a different nature. It isn’t always4necessarily about what you know but about your approach and willingness to be open to new learning experiences and just giving it a red hot go. If you have a passion or enjoy something, why not utilise your strengths and previous skill sets to make a career in construction work for yourself.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I’ve always loved looking at the built environment whether it be in my city or those I visit. Buildings and structures are utilised many reasons and to play a role in making something out of what once seemed like nothing is quite awesome. For this to happen your team requires people of different skills and knowledge sets, meaning you get to work with a diverse range of people.

In addition, being involved in the grad program also means you get a group of peers who you can compare stories with. It’s a great forum, as everyone is going through the same kinds of challenges in a different work environment.

 

What are the limitations of your job?

Limitations might be the wrong way to look at it, but the construction industry is one which is time critical. You’re constantly working towards an end goal which means effective time management is essential.

Each site is different, each team and project’s circumstances will never be the same and consequently your presence out on site, responsibilities and requirements for out of hours can shift. Sometime you’re required early, sometimes late, every Saturday, on a rotational roster or no weekends at all. In the end, it’s about working as a team to get the job done to the best of your ability.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Get out of your comfort zone: I delayed any work experience opportunities in my earlier years of Uni due to doubting whether my skill set and capabilities sufficed. Once I got a foot in the door I realised how much more relatable my university course work was. No matter what stage of your career, keep putting your hand up- there is nothing worse than not having a go.
  2. Extra-curricular Activities: Throughout my schooling, university and now work I have always ensured I make time for things I love to do; team sports, classes and events. Ensuring that you make time for the things you love is fundamental to getting a work life balance and enjoying work when the pressure is on.
  3. Travel: Throughout all phases of my student life I was able to travel nationally and internationally. These experiences have shaped my perceptions, independence, outgoing nature and desire for new experiences. Take the opportunity while you have a little more freedom with your hours to go and explore new cities and cultures, as once you begin full time work you’ll only get limited time each year.

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