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Sean van Buiten

BSc (Hons) Construction Management
Graduated Student

Headshot - Sean van Buiten, Solent graduate

Sean studied BSc (Hons) Construction Management part-time, as it came part of a job offer from his new employer, Willmott Dixon. He found the idea of being given the opportunity to obtain a degree while working to be very appealing as he was eager to learn on the job. This is what ultimately lead him to accepting the job and subsequently enrolling at Solent.

Did you have any concerns about studying a undergraduate course?

The workload was an initial concern while working full time. However, the resources available on the Solent portal and how this was updated weekly in a structured manner allowed me to stay well on track with studies. It did require self-discipline to not fall behind, but once I found a method that worked for me the workload wasn’t an issue.

What was the best thing about your course lecturers?

All the lecturers struck the right balance of professionalism and personability. This allowed for group discussion to organically take place which furthered all our learning. The smaller lecture sizes really helped in this, as we were able to engage directly with the lecturers more regularly.

Did you do any work experience as part of your course?

I was working full time will taking the part time course. I’d certainly recommend this approach as it allowed me to utilise what I was learning at uni and implement this at work, and vice versa. In a topic as vast as construction this was a definite benefit.

Tell us a bit about your experience as an undergraduate student?

The work life balance is what worried me at first, having a full-time job and studying simultaneously. However, with the resources available on the portal and the library being open 24/7, it allowed me to schedule in regular time to study. I found keeping this regimented and disciplined timetable allowed a good balance of study / work / social to be maintained.

Furthermore, access to CIOB content and advice through our lecturers was of benefit in aspirations to become chartered.

Our fellow students were also a good resource, we had a wide range of roles within our cohort, from housing, commercial projects, highways and heavy, small private developers, etc. This brought a good mix of ideas and knowledge as well as being able to gain good contacts across the industry.

How did Solent prepare you for your career?

I already had begun my career prior to attending Solent, however what Solent did do to enhance my career was provide me with skills in critical thinking, formal writing, general ‘professional’ confidence, along with the education.

What’s been your proudest career achievement?

Being awarded Willmott Dixon Trainee of the year and CIOB certificate of excellence in 2022/23.

Tell us a little bit about your current role?

I’m currently working as a Build Manager working on a £15m new build office complex. The role is very varied, including coordination, team management, quality assurance, H&S compliance, customer liaison, design management, fire compliance, and more. It is this varied work that I enjoy as it involves different ways of working, thinking, and approaching a problem.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of studying construction?

Really understand the different roles within construction. Typically, the industry hasn’t done very well to advertise these, although this is now changing for the better. There are many roles within the industry, some more practical, some more analytical, and many with a bit of both. Get a flavour for what is out there before deciding on a role. However, ultimately many people do transition sideways into new roles so there is always scope to move about within a company or the industry.