Your final submission document is likely to be comprised of the following elements:
- your CV
- a Career Appraisal
- a Case Study
- 24 months of PEDRs
Your CV is included to offer an overall snapshot of your professional experience, so it is important to make sure it is fully updated! It can also be a good idea to include a small snapshot of selected projects to help reinforce the message that you have a diverse professional experience. During my final interview, one of the examiners commended me for not only including some selected projects, but for detailing the extent of my involvement.
The career appraisal allows you to share your ambitions, goals and experience. It is important to write honestly and thoughtfully, as you will probably be asked questions during your oral interview, particularly on how you intend to reach your stated goals.
Many people chose to include pie charts summarising their experiences at different work stages, which can make it easier to highlight areas of strength and weakness. It is also beneficial to include elements of a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis, which is often the starting exercise for your first draft of the appraisal. The appraisal should be approximately 4000-5000 words in length, which will feel uncomfortably short if you have a lot of experience to cover.
The Case Study is the main bulk of your submission at 10,000 words. Whilst marks cannot be deducted solely for exceeding the word limit, you will be marked on your presentation and professionalism, so keep that in mind if you submit a 20,000 word Case Study! The Case Study is the vehicle in which you demonstrate to an examiner than you have experienced, or at least shadowed, across all work stages. Your Case Study is not a diary, and it is critical that you contrast your experiences with “best practice” methods, offering sufficient analysis, reflection and recomendations.
It is important to make it absolutely clear where your involvement with the project begins and ends, particularly if you are shadowing someone through part of the project. Many people will find the need to write their Case Study on two different projects in order to cover enough of the work stages. In this scenario it is important to write clearly and efficiently about each project to avoid any confusion, or lack of information, about the project. A project timeline and a summary sheet are two efficient tools to outline your involvement across the project, as well as the key facts for the reader.
When writing your Case Study you will be tempted to include absolutely every single piece of information, from emails to planning drawings and site photos. Whilst it is important to include enough information, you should only include the absolute minimum amount of information required to make the point. he readability of your Case Study will improve greatly if you keep the appendices to a minimum. For example, if you are critiquing the appointment letter, it would make sense to include the letter, but you would not need to include 10 pages of emails with the client leading up to the appointment.
Your PEDR’s will not only contain an account of your professional experiences, but also your reflections, feedback from your mentor and comments from your PSA. It is important to put some effort into your PEDR’s as they are the evidence of the varied experience you have had in practice. The reflections you make, as well as the outlook you had at the time, can be useful when writing your career appraisal, and may be called upon during your oral interview. One of the first questions I was asked during my final interview related to one line I wrote in one of my earliest PEDR’s. Reflection and self-analysis is an important skill to master throughout your career and will make goal setting much easier and worthwhile.