Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Student Profiles: Mentoring Scheme 2013

Following the catch-up with the Mentors,  I asked two of the students who were mentored in 2013-14 (the first year of the Mentoring Scheme) to answer my questions:

The students are: Tom Dancer (TD) who is now working as a Graduate Surveyor for Cushman & Wakefield and Harriet Costello (HC) who is working as a graduate surveyor with Jones Lang LaSalle.

Tom Dancer

Harriet Costello


Why did you choose to go into Real Estate?
TD: A career in Real Estate runs in my family as with many students on the course. Having grown up with a dad who is a chartered surveyor I was exposed to the industry from an early age. This inquisitiveness grew and I sought to do work experience to see if I would enjoy the career path. After completing work experience with Cluttons, I knew I wanted to study Real Estate.

HC: I have always been an individual who has moved house and location a lot and I often wondered what was involved in it. I choose to undertake property related work experience in a half term during my Sixth Form education as this was something that I did not study in school.  The week taught me numerous property basics which were a great interest to me. This then led me to choose to apply for the REM (Real Estate Management) course at Oxford Brookes.

Why did you choose Oxford Brookes?
TD: After visiting Oxford Brookes on one of the open days and being told about the redevelopment of the University, I immediately knew it was the right place to study. I spoke to a few a student ambassadors who told me what the course was like but also the University as a whole. They explained that at Oxford Brookes the student is able to find the correct work/social-life balance, crucial for the surveying industry! Looking back on my last 3 years and having spoken to friends who attended Reading, I am incredibly pleased I chose to study at Brookes.

HC: I believe that if I am to do something, I will do it properly.  This is why I choose to apply for Oxford Brookes. Firstly, I liked what the course had to offer, academically speaking, and also appreciated the close connections with the industry itself.

What was it like when you arrived and started the course?
TD: When I arrived it was a building site! It has been very interesting to watch the transformation and to be able to use the new buildings, especially the Abercrombie building. Straight away we were told that we should be proud to have made it onto the course. The first week was quite intense for a first week, but provided a good chance to be able to get to know the fellow course members.

HC: Informative introductions were presented which allowed students to interact with their future lecturers, enabling us to form good relationships from the start. Once the course had started, lecturers were extremely helpful with coursework queries and also in presenting us with our workload for each semester.

Looking back over your time at Brookes, what were the highlights/challenges?
TD: Overall looking back at the last 3 years, I can say that there were far more highlights than low points. The integrative project coursework in 2nd year is a challenging one with many late nights however it certainly brings your group together and strong friendships are made. In the 3rd year, the dissertation hand-in is certainly a highlight, especially the night out that follows! The PPT (Professional Practice Test) and field trip to Liverpool in the 3rd year is probably the most challenging part of the course, but the majority of us came away having enjoyed the trip and the benefits to our experience.

HC: I enjoyed the teaching from the majority of lecturers and they really did make the subjects interesting and made students become eager about their studies. Adequate time was given to us in terms of coursework and exam deadlines. As a year, we enjoyed the social side of our course: the rugby socials and annual balls were always events to look forward to! The most challenging part of this course was the need to gain work experience and internships outside of university, which enabled students to gain more of an understanding of the built environment.  This is primarily due to the nature and competitiveness of the industry...and is where the Mentoring Scheme really helped.

Why did you decide to take part in the Mentoring Scheme?
TD: Having a mentor allows you to have access to someone within the industry where you can pick up the phone and ask any questions you may have. I had several questions about a career in Real Estate that I wouldn't have been able to find an answer to without my Mentor. My mentor was Simon Conie, an Associate Director at CBRE.

HC: I did not have a direct link with property professionals or the industry so I used this opportunity to get in contact with Oliver Pell of Knight Frank (my Mentor). This allowed me to seek advice regarding job prospects, dissertation queries and to improve my contacts in the property industry.

What kind of support did your Mentor offer to you?
TD: My Mentor offered me support ranging from questions regarding assignments, to help with internship applications and general career advice. Communication was either via email or phone.
I met up with my mentor once every couple of months and we would usually go for lunch or have a discussion over a few beers!

HC: Oliver was extremely helpful in answering my many questions. I could contact him by telephone and email and communication was always prompt.

Bearing in mind your experience, what advice would you give to someone starting the course?
TD: At uni you get great Christmas and Summer holidays, from the 1st year I would recommend looking to get a week work experience and maybe a couple of the summer just to help bolster the CV. Work experience makes you stand out when you apply for internships and jobs. In your second year summer, think about internship applications early and ensure your time management is efficient to allow enough time to focus on your assignments. Apply for a Mentor as they give you great advice and guidance. Get involved in sports teams and any other extra-curricular activities that interest you, the more you do, the more you stand out. And enjoy it! It will be the best three years of your life!

HC: I would advise students to gain as much work experience as possible – in both small and large firms and to try and gain a variety of placements. This is vital in gaining a holistic view of property when studying. I would also advise them to take part in the Mentoring Scheme as it offers a different view on certain aspects of the course.  This opportunity was invaluable for me and is definitely recommendable.

Click the link for more information on the Mentoring Scheme. The 2015 launch will take place in March 2015.



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