Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Real Estate Mentoring Scheme 2015

The OBREMS/OBU Real Estate Mentoring Scheme is now in its third year. The Mentoring Scheme is managed jointly by OBREMS (which, by the way, is our alumni association) and the Department of Real Estate and Construction at Oxford Brookes University. For those of you who still haven't heard of it, take a look here.

This year, the launch was replaced by individual first meetings between mentor and mentee. So there are no photos of people building structures with spaghetti and marshmallows. Instead, this post will focus on the feedback we have just received from the mentors who mentored students in 2014 (many of whom are continuing this year).

Firstly, all our mentors are graduates from the BSc Real Estate Management at Oxford Brookes University (or its predecessor at Oxford Polytechnic). This gives mentor and mentee and excellent starting point as they have at least one thing in common. As to how the mentoring relationship develops, although we do offer some guidance, this is very much led by the mentee with support from the mentor. As one mentor said:

'the three students I have worked with so far are all very different so it is incumbent on mentors to adapt their approach to fit the student and his/her objectives. Trying to formulate it (the role of mentor) might take something away from the process. At the first meeting it is important to scope out how you can work together effectively and build a good working relationship'.

Mentors and Mentees who took part in the 2014 Mentoring Scheme

And the feedback from some of the mentors on 2014:

Meetings and introductions
I met face to face with my mentee in and out of the office, providing information on my own work and career path to date and introducing my mentee to colleagues. I discussed dissertation topics and took part in my mentee’s dissertation survey. I also provided opinions and advice on the market.

Key contacts, internships and jobs
My mentee was a joy to mentor, communicative and working hard to ensure they took full advantage of my input. I helped with the dissertation - sending some relevant research articles and putting them in touch with a few people to explore the dissertation subject. I helped arrange internships and ensured that my mentee met some of my key contacts in the industry - one of which led to the offer of a full-time job. We had some excellent conversations along the way and my mentee  was always well prepared and had a good grasp of what was needed and often was just checking with me that they had done the right thing.

Vigorous discussions and key industry issues
Mentoring for me is about a few vigorous discussions, pointing in the right direction for key industry issues, ensuring they know who I know and how I can help and sourcing good publications and research for them. Key also is introducing them to good people who may employ them and in any event might have something to add to the mentoring process.

Market updates, dissertations and interview contacts
I helped my mentee with work experience, industry contacts, interview contacts for the dissertation, general market update research, interview question help, review of personal statement content and presentations for interview. Meetings were mainly over coffee and communication via email/phone.

Graduate pathways and the APC
At our initial meeting we had an in-depth discussion on the various graduate pathways available. I gave an overview of my career to date and the route I had taken since leaving Oxford Brookes whilst setting out some of the options available to graduates. I ran through the various markets that might be of interest and how best to access them. This included quite a bit of explanation on the consultancy practices and how they service clients, whilst at the same time offering very good training for the APC. Equally we discussed looking at working client side straight out of university and how my mentee might go about this.

Employment opportunities, CV, personal branding and mentoring from afar
The activities we did were fairly ancillary to the course, and were  mainly to do with future employment opportunities including:

  • The CV which went from a three page masterpiece that I knew wouldn’t be read to a punchy one page sales document.
  • Use of LinkedIn for personal brand building
  • Employment options and I suggested a few approaches
  • We discussed options and ways to approach the final year dissertation
  • We kept in touch during my mentee's vacation work and chatted about how things were going.
  • We were lucky enough to meet up in Dubai (the mentor was based in Dubai) and we reviewed what my mentee had done and where they wanted to go next.

Benefits for mentors
To be fair I think I got out of the relationship just as much as they did! It was enjoyable to see a young person about to start their professional career and see the excitement they were having as they assessed their options.

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