From Cadet to Graduate and Beyond: Adam Harris

Adam Harris joined White Associates in February last year as part of our cadet programme. Our fifth cadet in the four years that White Associates’ cadet programme has been running, Adam has been working three days a week in our Auckland office while he finishes off his final year of university studies at Unitec. The cadet programme is designed to equip future quantity surveyors with the skills and experience required to kickstart their careers.

“I am studying a Bachelor of Construction majoring in Construction Economics, which is pretty much quantity surveying,” he says. “I took construction at school and took a liking to it. They taught us the basics of the construction industry, and I’ve always enjoyed maths. So, from there the two combined to lead me towards the world of quantity surveying.”

While in his first year at Unitec, Adam undertook what he describes as ‘a very extensive Google search through the construction companies’ to find QS firms that might be the place for him to start his career. “I looked up White Associates, and I was engaged by how client-driven they are, how it’s all about being fair in the construction industry. That really caught my eye. I didn’t even see the cadet programme opportunity, I just happened to apply at the right time.

Then I got the email saying that I was accepted. It was quite exciting.”

It is good news that although the world of work is undeniably different to life as a student, Adam’s early view marries up with his experience now he is established in the White Associates team. “School life is very different to work, but I am enjoying it. The main thing we talk about here is being fair. It’s about making sure that the contract is being administered in a way where everyone is following the contract correctly, and it’s a good team vibe.”

Over the last six months, Adam has taken on work on his own vertical built demolition project, doing site visits and making recommendations. “The main thing I have found about the construction industry is the importance of relationships. Being able to communicate with the contractor and client without feeling nervous about it, having open communication gets the desired outcome for everyone. The White Associates team and the contractor have been welcoming and supportive to me.”

One thing Adam has found helpful along the way is meeting a number of other previous cadets at White Associates. “When I first arrived, we had a session in the first week with previous cadets, Corize and Olivia. We discussed how the cadet programme works, what they’ve enjoyed about it, and any challenges. It was good to learn from them, and I am still enjoying learning every day. There are so many experienced people around our office that are willing to help you out. The learning opportunities have been great, and on top of that it’s been good while I was at uni because the cadetship gives you lots of flexibility. It’s not a set three days a week; it can be whatever suits your timetable, obviously through talking with the management team. That’s good when stress gets high if you’ve got some exams coming, and I do have exams coming up!

“I’m excited to see a project from the start to the end, which would be quite useful for my growth as well. I like the fact that White Associates has such a broad range of projects; it’s interesting to see a whole lot of different projects, especially early on in my career. I’ve really been exposed to pretty much everything.

“My first project in the construction industry, something to really look forward to.”