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The Apprentice’s point of view: our newest project manager

Iconic Project Management were delighted to welcome Rachel Hounsell-Roberts as our newest trainee project manager in August. She’s taking part in a level 6 apprenticeship, studying BSc Construction Management (MRICS) at the University College of Estate Management (UCEM)


Iconic apprentice, Rachel, travelling to site on a train

What should I do with my life?


When I left sixth form in 2022 I felt lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It felt like I was left behind as my friends were headed off to university.


I, on the other hand, didn’t want to go away to uni. I was grasping at straws, trying to figure out what career I wanted. I felt like I had so much ambition, with nowhere to channel it, and as a result I felt restless. I’d thought about apprenticeships and applied to some, but none had really stuck out to me as something I’d want to do.


Between then and now, I spent a long time trying to figure out what I wanted. I did a marketing internship, I travelled for a couple months, I came back and I still didn’t know.


I began to feel restless again. At this point I was considering travelling to Australia for a year or working a ski season (even though I’d never skied!). Although these were cool ideas, they weren’t what I really wanted and deep down I knew that.


I only discovered project management earlier this year and, when I learnt more about the job, I knew it was well suited to me and what I was looking for from a career. By this point, I was very selective about where I applied. I knew that, if I was going to commit to an apprenticeship, it would have to be a job I liked, at a company I liked.



Apprentice project manager, Rachel, and senior project manager, Mike Weeks, airside at Southampton International Airport

Searching for the right apprenticeship


I spent months searching Linkedin, Indeed and the government apprenticeship website for apprenticeships that I felt suited me. Then I saw ‘Trainee Project Manager’ at Iconic Project Management.


When I looked at the description of what they were looking for, I felt like they were describing me. I worked on my CV for a couple weeks, wanting it to be perfect, but eventually on a Sunday evening I decided I needed to apply.


It was lucky that I did because, 2 days later, they were holding an assessment day to select their next apprentice.


The selection process


I initially felt nervous on the assessment day (it’s always tough plucking up the courage to ring the doorbell!), but everyone in the office was so welcoming. I distinctly remember how warm and friendly the office manager, Andrea Collins, was when she offered us refreshments.

As the day progressed I knew I wanted to work at Iconic. The moment it clicked for me was when CEO Lizzie Hewitt said something along the lines of ‘We’re not going to ask you lots of questions about project management! You’re all young, we know you don’t have experience yet!’. This was a stark contrast with other similar apprentice roles I’d been applying for.


In fact, I’d sat in an interview at another company, where they asked me reams of questions about times I’d managed projects, failed projects and times I’d asked for help to complete projects. I had no answers. They created an environment that didn’t allow me to perform my best. After walking out of that interview, I didn’t feel like I wanted to work with them. I didn’t even think about what I wanted. Instead, I felt unworthy and useless.


The right company culture


Lizzie’s words really stuck out to me; they felt like a strong reflection of the company culture at Iconic. In that moment, I knew Iconic would be a place that understands and supports. After the selection day with Iconic, I remember saying to my parents ‘I really like them. I want to work with them.’


A few days after the assessment day, I had a second interview with Director of Project Management Darren Hewitt and, again, I got a really good feeling about Iconic. From each interaction with Iconic I wanted to work with them more, so I was thrilled when I received a phone call from Senior Project Manager Mike Weeks the following morning offering me the job. I remember feeling unbelievably giddy at the time!


Now I’m over a month into the job, I’m thoroughly enjoying it! I’m thrilled to be working with Iconic for the next 5 years as I complete my BSc Construction Management (MRICS). In my role so far, I’ve travelled to a variety of sites which I’ve found really interesting!



Everards brewery in Leicester. A grass field with trees and a building in the background

Author


Photo of Rachel Hounsell-Roberts, author of this article

Rachel Hounsell-Roberts


Rachel is one of our Trainee Project Managers. She completed her A-levels in Business, Geography and Drama before taking a year out to travel, visiting Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

She is looking forward to learning more about project management and is excited to see where this apprenticeship will take her!





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