‘Working and studying for my degree from my bedroom’ – management trainee Oliver Pearce on his first term at university

oliver pearce working at home

At Helix, we believe in continuing to offer training and development – even when faced with uncertainty. Having a skilled workforce is more important than ever. We are delighted to see our Management Trainee, Oliver Pearce, complete the first term of his Quantity Surveying degree at Westminster University. The degree is sponsored by Helix and is part of his trainee role here. 

Meet Ollie

I started working for Helix in early 2020. I’d had some experience in the sector but, jumped at the chance to really get my foot in the door. There were two main attractions to joining Helix. For one, high-quality SME builders like Helix are new to the construction market and working for them provides a unique opportunity to be exposed to many areas of the industry. Second, they were willing to sponsor my degree – which is quite a rare find and something I was definitely keen to take them up on.

Working and studying through COVID-19

Even before I began my course at Westminster University, 2020 was already a year of adapting and adjusting to the new working environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the rest of the Helix office-based team, I had been working between home and the office since the first lockdown in March. When I began my course in September, I had to combine working from home and completing my university degree from my bedroom. 

Listening to all of my lectures at home has been challenging as it’s not as interactive as I would have liked. However, I appreciate that the university has been extremely responsive to COVID-19. The online platforms Westminster University use are brilliant and – like at work – we are completing assignments using Teams and WhatsApp. You can have virtual meetings with lecturers any time you want and this has really helped me take to the course and complete my first term successfully. 

While I have missed out on lab testing and meeting other students, I have plenty to look forward to in 2021 and beyond. I am itching to get back to the office and to university so I can experience being a student in London. One benefit of the current situation is that I have saved a good chunk of money on travel costs – but I’m ready to spend a bit of that socialising with other students and colleagues as soon as I can!

Contributing to growth

I have found combining my job with my studies has really helped me to learn quickly. I enjoy applying my lectures to current Helix projects such as the development of 185 new affordable homes for Catalyst Housing Group at Brackley in Northamptonshire. I’ve been able to learn the ropes of the industry while also bringing a fresh pair of eyes. 

Although not exactly what any of us expected as students, the start of my degree has been good and I am looking forward to getting stuck in again this term. Hopefully we will be able to do some face-to-face lessons at some point this year – fingers crossed.

In the meantime, there is plenty to keep me busy at work as well. It is great that the business was able to grow in 2020 and win new work in affordable and private housing as well as education, defence and other sectors. More new people are joining the company all the time as we grow and create new jobs. Despite everything else going on at present, it is an exciting time to be in construction working at Helix. Now, back to that WhatsApp group…

Helix’s Commercial Director, David Jowett, and Managing Director, Nic Davies, have been invited to give an online guest lecture to Westminster University students on the lifecycle of a building and how to plan for this. The lecture will take place on Wednesday 3 February 2021.