Meet Chloe Swain: International Women’s Day Alumni Feature

We’re delighted to be celebrating our fantastic female staff, students and alumnae for International Women’s Day 2024!

To embrace this year’s theme, Inspire Inclusion, we wanted to share the story of one of our alumnae, whose experience pursuing a career in a male-dominated industry has left her with reflections and advice for young women wanting to go down a similar path.

Chloe Swain is an alumna of two of our colleges. She completed her Creative Practice: Art, Design and Communication UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma at Bracknell and Wokingham College in 2021, and her HNC Construction and the Built Environment at Guildford College in 2023.


Overcoming obstacles

Chloe’s story is one of immense strength and resilience. In 2019, Chloe had to take time out of college to undergo treatment for a life-threatening illness, Neutropenic Sepsis.

“After what I’ve been through, I now know nothing is impossible,” Chloe said in 2020, after making a full recovery and returning to college to complete her second year.

“Personally, I’ve changed quite a lot over the past year. Last year I was very depressed, anxious and closed off and then after going through what I did I opened up a lot more. I am more energetic, happier and more myself now. I want to make every day count.”

When she returned, Chloe threw herself into her studies and excelled in her course. She also started seeking out work experience opportunities to help her get her foot in the door of the Architecture industry.


Pursuing a career in construction

Chloe started a role as a trainee architectural technician at Bloor Homes in 2021, which she worked alongside her HNC course. The course allowed her to step up at work, when she was promoted to Architectural Technician in 2023.

Chloe explained what her day-to-day looks like: “As an architectural technician, I’m basically a mixture of a project manager and an architectural technologist,”

“An architectural technician oversees the project from planning all the way to completion. So, I’ll get involved with what goes on the site, how many bedrooms, which materials we use, even going on site and helping engineers with foundations as well.

“I find it so interesting and satisfying to watch a site transform from the bare bones to the finished product and be part of the process every step of the way.”

“Every day is different, and it’s great because you get such an interesting range of experience, which is really valuable if you ever decide to try out a different area of the industry.”


Reflections on working in a male-dominated industry

Working in the construction industry for a few years has given Chloe a great insight into what it’s like to be a woman in a career that many people still see as a man’s industry.

“In my team of 12 people, two of us are women, and this is a trend that you can see across the other teams in my organisation, and in the construction industry as a whole,” Chloe said.

“I’ve spoken to many of my female colleagues about this and we’ve all found it quite hard at times, being a woman in this industry, as when people think of construction, they imagine a group of men on site.

“There is still a stigma, but we’re really trying to push for more women in construction jobs and to be on site as well, not just in the office. It’s important to show young women that they can be a bricklayer, a labourer, an electrician, they can be anything they want to be.

“We have noticed that having a more diverse team is making us more approachable and relatable to our customers and has created a better work environment for us. Having different perspectives makes our team work better,” Chloe added.


Thoughts on International Women’s Day

Chloe reflected on the importance of young women having strong female role models to look up to. When asked what woman most inspires her in her life she shared:

“My mum inspires me to be the best I can be every day. My family has been through a lot of heartbreak over the years and my mum has always been the glue that holds us together.”

Chloe also had some words of advice to share with young women wanting to pursue a career in construction.

She said: “It’s a tough industry to be in. Even though the industry has evolved over time, women will still have men try to overpower them.

“But women have the right to work in construction if they want to, and there are already some leading women that have done great things in the industry. I want to encourage young women to believe that they can do anything a man can do!”


Find out more about what we’re doing to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024 here.