Sophia's experience of Real's Graduate Programme

01 June 2021

Sophia's experience of Real's Graduate Programme
Sophia doesn’t fit the usual stereotype of a construction industry graduate, but has found a real passion for the built environment on Real’s graduate programme.


Sophia Graves joined the graduate training programme back in September 2018 at age 27. Having studied an Extended Diploma in Art & Design, 3D Design and Interior Design and then an Architectural Venue Design degree. Sophia explored a number of  employment options but wasn’t really totally committed to her previously intended career path. 

As a stop gap Sophia worked in retail and quickly progressed through to management. Although she enjoyed the customer service side of the job, there was limited variety, long-term prospects or opportunity for independent thinking or use of creativity.

Sophia had always thought the construction industry offered the type of careers more suited to her strengths and her ambition for a more varied role.  She’d considered site manager graduate programmes before but didn’t really know where to start on this particular career path.

However, in 2017 Sophia found the opportunity to bridge the gap by studying for an MSC in Construction Project Management. Once she graduated Sophia found it surprising easy to find a graduate opportunity.

She applied for 25 graduate opportunities, had four interviews, but instantly knew that she wanted to join the graduate programme she is now just about to complete.  She was up against stiff competition, there were 860 applications, which were whittled down to 35 interviewees. Out of the six graduates appointed, Sophia was the only female.

On her experience of the graduate programme, Sophia said: “Lack of female role models makes it slightly harder to pursue a career in construction. I used to look at a job description and be absolutely sure that the role was perfect for me, but wondered if it was a bit odd that it suited me so well because construction is seen as dirty and heavy work, but it’s really not like that.

“A trainee role in the construction industry offers so much versatility, you can be working on the tools, or be in a training programme for say - quantity surveying. The freedom to develop or change paths where your skills are best suited is a great feature of Real’s trainee programme. I know that many trainees have been able to make a change to a different role to allow for more career fulfilment and progression.

“I have so many qualities that bring so much to the team. I’m a detail person that likes to be organised, which is great when it comes to drawing up a snagging list. I’m not sure this relates in any way to be my gender but I often take a more thoughtful approach to problem solving – it is just the way I work.

“I am very passionate about the built environment and how to improve the world around us. Every village, town and city have a story to tell and to contribute to that story in the slightest way is really important to me.

“The graduate scheme is well organised with a clearly set out plan to gain experience in all areas including health and safety, logistics and quality control.

“My ultimate aim is to be a project manager, where I will have the opportunity to use the planning and co-ordination skills that I’ve learnt during the graduate programme.

“I’m also really keen to take an active role in women in construction networks which have been of great support to me mostly across social media, particularly on Instagram – they’re a great way to connect with other women in construction.”

To find out more about the graduate and trainee opportunities at Real please visit:

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