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16 MAR 2020

How important is relevant industry experience for a career in surveying?

Alex Esson

Alex Esson

Future Talent, Diversity & Inclusion Marketing & Communication Manager

RICS

With more than 300 UK university courses covering land, property and construction accredited by RICS, there's a surveying course suited for everyone – no matter where you want to study or what your career ambitions are. John Jarman, first class university graduate from Sheffield Hallam University and Industrial Agent in the Sheffield office of Knight Frank, looks at how industry experience while studying helps develop skills, increases understanding and makes a candidate stand out in a highly competitive market.

Whether you want to work in Agency - providing advice on the acquisition, development, letting or disposal of property, become an architect or quantity surveyor, or have an eye for commercial planning and development, the career opportunities available are broad and allow for great progression.

In such a competitive market, which directly employs hundreds of graduates each year in the UK, having work experience in the form of an internship or placement year is essential in order to stand out. For me, completing a placement year in Sheffield allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the market and proved invaluable to securing a position in the city. 

Career pathways in real estate are much more than just selling land, houses or commercial property. The industry incorporates everything from planning and development, to valuation techniques, lease advisory, construction and marketing, making it an industry reliant on individuals with a diverse range of skills.

I was fortunate enough to work with Knight Frank during the placement year of my degree and following this continued to work part-time in my final year.

While balancing work and final-year studies was a challenge, the experience was crucial in giving me an insight into the many aspects of the industry. Knight Frank could not have been more supportive and having experts in multiple disciplines available to discuss topical questions with was brilliant.

John Jarman
John Jarman
University students graduation ceremony
Although balancing university work and industry experience can be difficult, it can be a crucial insight into the profession

Being able to combine theory and real-world experience unquestionably gave me a deeper understanding of the field, which was reflected in my degree result.

I found that the skills and knowledge I picked up throughout my placement year meant I was in a much better position to complete my degree and particularly my dissertation. Working in the Industrial Agency team made me more commercially savvy by completing deals for various clients. I had an opportunity to show drive and commitment, I knew the industry systems and felt I had made a valuable contribution.

I am lucky to have been given the chance to begin my property career here at Knight Frank. One of the advantages of the industry is that it provides a clear route to professional development and qualifications and is open to anyone, however, there continues to be a demand for skilled graduates in the property-related professions, particularly from cognitively diverse backgrounds. Knight Frank is continuously working to diversify the pool of talent it recruits. The firm is currently working with an external consultancy, Wiser, to develop the early careers value proposition, careers site and collateral to attract diverse graduates. As a result, over half of our recent graduate applications were from non-cognate graduates.

The industry also generally supports further study while you work, and many employers provide opportunities on structured programs to work towards gaining your professional RICS status. This is valued by employers, not only because it allows membership of professional bodies, but because it encourages you to think and work independently.

Lifelong learning is just that. I do not think there will ever be a time when an individual can just stop learning and I will always be on the lookout for additional skills and new initiatives throughout the course of my career.

Find out more about university surveying courses here

Alex Esson

Alex Esson

Future Talent, Diversity & Inclusion Marketing & Communication Manager

RICS

 Alex is the Marketing & Communications Manager for the Future Talent, Diversity & Inclusion team, who work to create awareness for careers in surveying, inspiring the next generation to choose our profession.