Derek Gough


Interview with a DGA Intern

Adding to our team is like adding to our family, it’s a big risk and it takes time, determination and a willingness to make it work on both sides – this is if we want to achieve all that we can together.

We have tried all the traditional routes to recruit and grow, but without doubt the most successful by miles has been growing our own talent. Nick is the third trainee to come to us from another completely unrelated discipline, we have a barrister and an asbestos surveyor who have joined us as trainees and took a part time masters in Construction and will take their RICS professional interviews next year. We also have 3 trainees who are studying for their QS degrees who we hope will join us when they graduate. This is in addition to Nick who is going down this new Apprenticeship route at Salford University – we have high hopes for a pipeline of new talent from this source.

We are lucky that we have a wealth of experienced people willing to share their experience and expertise and a huge range of projects to use a case studies – it’s a slow burn but it works well for everyone, we know that our trainees, when they join us on a permanent contract, understand our ethics and buy in to our values, as well as being good professional surveyors.

Below is an interview recently conducted with Nick explaining more about what he does and how he works with DGA.

1. Tell us about your education background and what’s the name of the scheme you are on.

I have ABB in Chemistry, Biology and English Language at A Level. I enrolled on the B.Sc. Chemistry course at University of Manchester and studied there for a year before I dropped out at the start of Year 2 because I felt I was hindered by my lack of Physics at A Level. The core modules included some heavy hitting Physical Chemistry and students without Physics at A Level were expected to make up the difference in knowledge primarily through self-study which I found to be a challenge alongside my other modules.
Now I’m enrolled on the B. Sc. Degree Apprenticeship in Quantity Surveying at University of Salford which I’m extremely excited about.

2. What are your day to day responsibilities at DGA?

At first Derek had me working on Measure & Price jobs, measuring off drawings and building budget estimate spreadsheets. In the last 3 weeks, I’ve been working under the supervision of Trevor producing BoQs in the estimating software package, ConQuest.

3. Why did you want to do an apprenticeship?

I think now is the ideal time to start a degree apprenticeship, they are encouraged by politicians at the moment and as a result there is a substantial government (taxpayer) contribution towards course fees for companies not paying the new levy. I think this subsidy will be reduced once the government realizes that its not financially viable to fund higher education to such a degree. Aside from the economic benefit of choosing a degree apprenticeship over a full-time course at University, I think the format of learning by apprenticeship and day-release is perfect for me. I didn’t want to enrol on a full-time course with 3 years of little or no opportunity to earn but I think that I could get a good degree. I think at the end of the course I will be far more valuable to DGA than I would be fresh off a B. Sc. in QS. I will have been gaining valuable experience, building relationships and earning for 3 years as well as getting a degree. I’m surrounded by talented and knowledgable people in the company rather than a few lecturers and loads of students and I see that as a big plus.

4. What are your career goals?

First thing is to get a good education and graduate (hopefully with first class honours) and then take the RICS exams to qualify as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor. I don’t see any limitations in my future career here other than my own potential and I would be very happy to enjoy a long stint at the crease for DGA. Derek and Martin are great role models and if I build good relationships with the directors and learn as much as I can from them then I think I’ll be well placed to make a solid contribution to the company.

5. What have you learned about office life that you hadn’t experienced before?

Actually this is the first time I’ve worked in an office and I’ve been surprised how conducive the environment is to being productive. It’s a peaceful place and I look forward to getting in to the office in the morning. I thought I wouldn’t suit working in an office environment but I’ve found it much easier to focus and learn than I ever found concentrating throughout my college/university education. The fact that everyone is pulling in the same direction and the team is very well balanced makes it really enjoyable to put work in.

6. Can you describe how your training works both at DGA on the job and externally?

I’m eagerly awaiting more information on how my training and learning will work at the University of Salford. I do know I will be required to attend one day a week for 3 semesters for 3 years and thats about it. I would expect there to be various competencies and standards that I will have to demonstrate during my work and I will probably have to write up various case studies. I expect there to be exams and a good out of my own private studying required to do well. At DGA I learn by working on projects and going through my work with any one of the experienced professionals in the office. I am encouraged to ask questions and to contribute where I can . I’ve found working at DGA to be highly enjoyable and rewarding and its a great learning environment. I am motivated by the fact that I can make a minor contribution to the company while working and learning.

7. When did you start, and when do you finish and what are the next steps?

I came in on a trial basis for two weeks start 14th May and then subsequently a further two weeks before Derek gave me the green light to stay on. During the trial I worked under Derek’s direct supervision and I accompanied him on a few site visits; he gave me a really good flavour for what the job was all about. Now I’ve settled in a bit more and I work more with the team as a whole. Derek encouraged me to enrol on a course, recommending Salford as place with a good tradition in the construction industry. I can’t wait to start as I think it will really accelerate my development and I hope it will benefit myself and the company. It’s a 3 year course soon after which I aim to qualify as a Chartered QS.



If you are interested in our internship scheme please contact us.

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