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Meet Elena, Graduate at Persimmon Homes

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

My name is Elena and I am in my second year of the Persimmon General Management Graduate Scheme. I graduated in 2021 with an undergraduate degree in Modern Languages (French and Spanish) with Management Studies from the University of East Anglia.

What is your role and how long have you been at Persimmon?

I started working at Persimmon Homes Teesside in September 2022 as a Graduate Management Trainee. After having spent my first year rotating around all six main departments (Land and Planning, Technical, Commercial, Construction, Sales, and Customer Care) I am now in the first of my two six-month placements. I have chosen to return to the Land and Planning department for my first placement, which is where I have been working for the past month.

What inspired you to apply for this role / Persimmon?

I had been interested in the housing industry for a number of years, and so I started to look for a graduate position within the industry. The idea of a rotational grad scheme really appealed to me as I did not have a background in construction was not sure exactly which job role I would be most interested in. I also appreciated the fact that Persimmon would be willing to take graduates with a background in any discipline, as my degree is not directly related to the industry.

What has been the single most important thing you learnt so far in your job?

I’m not sure I could limit the experience to one thing, as I believe all of the knowledge I have gained from spending time in each department is vital. Having now returned to the Land and Planning department, it has been great to be able to offer an insight into the work that the other departments do and offer knowledge that I have acquired from my time there.

What would a ‘normal’ day look like for someone in your role?

Being in the Land and Planning department means that I am mostly office based at the moment, which means that a typical day would usually involve organising and responding to emails and having a team catch up before working through my list of priorities which we like to set at the beginning of each week. This could involve searching for potential sites, contacting landowners, conducting land valuations and much more.

What do you find most interesting with the sector you’re in?

I have found the sheer size and scope of the industry fascinating. From an outside perspective, you only really think of the housebuilding industry as the on-site teams, but there is so much that goes on behind closed doors. From dealing with local landowners, to communicating with local and national government authorities, from designing site layouts to bringing those drawings to life on site, and taking a customer from their first visit to a Customer Hub all the way through to the handover of keys and beyond with customer care. And of course this is on top of the usual Finance, HR, Legal, Marketing etc that you would find in other industries.

What is the culture like?

I would say that the culture at Persimmon is definitely hard-working, but it has also seen a lot of change over the past couple of years. From my experience, the shift is predominantly seen in the focus on ensuring that the houses we build are of a higher quality, and that the customer is at the heart of everything we do. I would also say that hard work is rewarded at Persimmon, with many people in senior roles having worked their way up from the bottom.

How important is diversity to you and what is Persimmon doing in this space at the moment?

Even just in the past year since I started, I can see that there has been a drive for women to be in roles in the construction industry. As an industry, women make up such a small percentage of the workforce relatively speaking, and so encouraging women to enter the industry is really important. Recently Persimmon has launched a Women’s Network within the business which is open to everyone and offers the chance to ask questions to women in senior roles within the company, hold discussions, and give advice.

How did you find the application process?

I actually really enjoyed the application process for this role. There were multiple stages with a variety of tasks, but I found them quite fun in the end. I felt as though we were always kept in the loop, and we were able to get feedback after each task which was great as this is not often the case with graduate roles. I also felt that the Bright Network was really encouraging throughout the whole process, which I really appreciated as everyone can get a bit nervous when applying for a new job, especially in an industry you haven’t worked in before.

Finally, any tips for anyone who’d like to apply for a role at Persimmon?

I would say don’t be put off if you feel you don’t know much about the industry. All of the current graduates on the scheme have come from different backgrounds, from geography to mechanical engineering, languages, business studies, history, and more. As long as you do some of your own research especially regarding the main issues the industry faces, you’ll be fine! The most important thing is that you have a great attitude towards work, and a passion and desire to work within the industry, the rest can be taught later.