A career in housebuilding can be incredibly versatile from sourcing land and designing new homes to specialist roles which aren’t directly linked to construction.

We spoke to two of our graduates about their experience of Cala’s Graduate Programme, and how they hope to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.


Introducing Jake…

Jake Barnes is a current land graduate within the Cotswolds team, set to complete the two-year programme in September this year.

With a degree in Geography from Oxford Brooks University, Jake had a keen interest in housebuilding after working as an architect’s assistant drawing floor plans.

Jake loves how multi-faceted his role within the Cala land team is. He said: “I always knew I wanted to work in land as I love the fact that you can start at the very beginning of the home building process, for example purchasing land, and see it go full circle, transforming into a vibrant new community. The most exciting moment is seeing the fruits of your labour all those years later.”

Jake spends much of his time looking into planning prospects, liaising with various teams across the business, putting a price on the land and bidding, as well as dealing with land ownership enquiries.


He added: “I have big aspirations. I would like to progress throughout Cala, moving to land buyer or assistant land buyer once I complete the Graduate programme. However, my big goal is to be able to say that I bought a site as a graduate and then watch it grow into a new build development.”

Before Jake finishes Cala’s Graduate Development Programme later this year, he has his final rotation out of two throughout the programme, giving him the opportunity to work with other Cala departments of his choice and gain in-depth insight into different functions across the wider business.

Jake continued: “My first rotation was to the technical department which allowed me to see the challenges of designing new developments which I knew would be useful for my role in land. It gave me a greater understanding of the bigger picture.

“I’ve just recently started my second rotation which is with the Affordable Housing team. What I love is Cala are completely flexible with how you approach this so I’m able to continue working with the Land team one day a week whilst also learning all about affordable housing. I thought this was important given the current housing needs within the country.”

It’s not just the role which interested Jake, it’s also the culture which Cala offers to graduates. He added: “You are very well looked after and valued - every team I’ve worked with has been really likeable. I moved back to Oxford for this job and I’m so glad I did. The network of people is such a highlight for me. I’ve met people from every aspect of the business. It’s a very relationship driven role which I knew would suit me well.”


Introducing Olivia…

Having been familiar with Cala already due to its reputation within the industry, Olivia Cunnison spotted a land graduate role on Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University’s notice board and applied straight away.

Olivia completed Cala’s Graduate Development Programme in 2023 and has progressed to land buyer in the West of Scotland. Her degree in Geography attracted her to a job in the Land team with both knowledge of the built environment and a particular interest in sustainable homes.

She thanks the many benefits of the graduate programme for where she is now in her career. Olivia said: “My graduate experience with Cala was very rewarding. The rotations, or secondments, allowed me to network and get to know people from different parts of the business that I wouldn’t have had the chance to learn about.”

Olivia is also doing a part-time master’s degree in city planning and real estate

“I feel completely supported by my line manager and wider team, so I know I have Cala’s full support to further my education whilst working. This will take me two years to complete, but this extra qualification will mean one day I may be able to become a chartered surveyor or a royal town planner, which is really exciting.”

The flexibility of the Graduate Development Programme offers long-term progression and development, so for those like Olivia who are keen to continue their education, they can work and study, so they experience the best of both worlds. Cala regularly supports employees through funded further education. This ranges from apprenticeships, college courses, university degrees as well as professional accreditations.


Find out more about Early Talent at Cala here.


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