Students working together with orange T-shirts

Developing the future with Hill for National Careers Week

For National Careers Week, Cambridge LaunchPad brought year 8 students to join Hill and become property development companies for the day

On 5th March, students from Linton Village CollegeBottisham Village CollegeSawston Village College and Cambridge Home Educated Families visited the Storey’s Field Centre in Eddington, for a day of discovering the fundamental forces that affect land development and construction.

As part of an UrbanPlan Challenge, the students were firstly tasked with forming their own property development companies in groups, competing against each other to regenerate Ellham, a fictional run-down city.

Working in their teams, the students each took on a role – from Head of Environment to Head of Planning & Design – and worked on their ideas to make Ellham an engaging and sustainable place to live.

After spending the morning working on their ideas, the students visited the Sales and Marketing Suite of Athena, meeting representatives from Hill and the University of Cambridge who discussed what went into creating the community at Eddington.

This was also a great chance for the groups to get tips to take away and help them finalise their own pitches.

Following a final planning session it was time for the groups to pitch to a panel of industry experts, including Emma Fletcher, Managing Director at SmithsonHill; Chloe Houston, Development Manager from Hill; Roberta Augustiniene and Veronica Bateman, Bayfield Training and Nick Mansley, Executive Director, Cambridge Real Estate Research Centre at University of Cambridge.

The judges were wowed by the ideas the teams pitched – but ultimately team Footsteps were crowned the winner and awarded the coveted Ellham regeneration contract.

The winning city was designed to be sustainable, accessible and a safe and healthy place for future generations to grow up – key elements the judges were looking for.

A student said:

“I’ve enjoyed the mix of competitiveness and teamwork, and it feels like how the job would be. It’s fun working on a serious project, where we can be creative and we really have to think about where we are putting the buildings. We aren’t treated like kids and we’re put straight into the work – in a good way!”

Emma Fletcher, Managing Director of SmithsonHill, said:

“The construction industry is complex and has many different facets – so an event like this really enables us to show all of the elements that go into construction, before the construction has even started.

“All of the students applied individually for today, and then became part of a team. They’ve come together, with different skills and qualities, and pitched their ideas. The things they’ve learnt today have been fantastic, and I think they’ll last with them for a long time. A lot of them are asking about careers and where they can go from now – and that’s great to see.”

The session brought land development and its career possibilities to life and helped students to work on skills such as time management, teamwork, communication, and problem solving – all key soft skills that Cambridge LaunchPad encourages young people to work on.

Shelley Lawrence, Project Coordinator of Women into Construction CIC, said:

“It was great to go into all the different schools and interact with the students before the project day, and when we received their applications I was really encouraged to see that we had a 50/50 gender split  – the submissions were of a really high quality, extremely creative and well thought through.

“Here today – it’s fantastic to see a room full of students all learning more about careers in property development and construction.”

At the end of the project day, students who show the best understanding of these values are recognised and rewarded with an invitation to an award ceremony held at the end of the academic year.