BSc student Christian Ennels tells Fiona Cameron why sandwich years are the tastiest option
A week before Christian Ennels began his BSc in building surveying he didn't know he was heading for a career in construction. Now he is finishing his time at Kingston University with sponsorship, a year in the industry under his belt and a secure job when he graduates.

Having taken a variety of part-time jobs in building while at college studying for a GNVQ in business, Christian got a taste for the industry, but it hadn't occurred to him to go into construction until one of his employers suggested he do a professional qualification. He began looking at courses but as it was late August, he had missed all the university application dates – universities were due to start their academic year.

Despite all this he contacted the course director at Kingston and spoke to him about a course in building surveying: he was offered a place on the spot and began university the following week.

I would strongly recommend doing a sandwich year. It gave me an understanding that has been very useful in my final year

Christian Ennels, surveying undergraduate

The course included a sandwich year in industry. Universities can arrange placements for students, but in Christian's case a contact suggested he approach Robinson Lane Frances, a medium-sized but prestigious quantity surveying firm. On the basis of the interview he was offered a year's work.

Christian went to a tutor to talk about the position he had been offered, and was told that RLF was a "fantastic company that had a reputation for investing in young people". "The adviser told me I couldn't go far wrong taking a place with them," he says.

Some tips for your sandwich year

  • Choose your company carefully; try to find one with a reputation for investing in young people and a good training policy. Ask tutors, industry contacts and other students if they have any recommendations.
  • Apply as if you were going for a permanent job, with professionally done CV and covering letter – and take any interview just as seriously.
  • If you can earn credits towards your degree or postgraduate qualification, make sure the firm you apply to is part of the appropriate scheme.