Back in June, we asked our friends in the property development industry to help Reading University students by offering them internships over the summer, to support their studies and give them real-world experience working in our industry.
Our own Nick Fisher (class of 2013) speaks highly of his experience at Reading, which helped prepare him for success in the property sector. "My degree - and my internship, specifically - was a fantastic experience for both myself, and the company who took me on. They had the benefit of someone who was fresh and keen and ready to work hard, and I learned what it was like to be part of the day-to-day in the property industry. I highly recommend taking on an intern from Reading - you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain."
Tom Jackson was placed at FRT Developments. He says, "I hate to use the buzzword, but given the ‘unprecedented’ circumstances the world was facing in March, my hopes of securing a summer internship looked slim with the majority of the large Real Estate companies cancelling any internships or placements that were scheduled.
"When the opportunity came up to work with [company Director Tom Mees] over the summer, I jumped at it. It has provided me with invaluable experience and brought the theory I had learnt whilst at University, to life in the practical working world."
He says he particularly enjoyed the responsibilities he was given. It was practical, hands-on experience, and more like a real job rather than just work-shadowing. He travelled to development sites and showed estate agents around, and liaised with them for rental and sales prices in order to calculate Gross Development Value, before sending over collated data to company Director Tom Mees.
I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity, despite these current uncertain times; it has provided me with an excellent platform to kick-start my career. So a big thank you to Tom for taking me on over the summer and to all those involved who made this possible.
Adrian Cormican - Director at Hallcroft Finance - explains that taking on interns has always been on their 'to do' list, but unfortunately always fell to the bottom. With the pandemic encroaching on all our lives, a consequence in our industry was that all the large employers' offices were closed and internships fell off their radars.
"With everyone working from home and now used to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts, this provided an opportunity for us to have access to some wonderful graduates. They had full access to our board calls, sales meetings, and all the mechanics behind the scenes - which whilst we may perceive it as relatively routine, I believe they found it interesting to see structure and strategy. We challenged them to challenge us, as diversity and fresh ways of thinking are something that young people can bring to the table - more so I believe than when I was a graduate."
He says that the world has shifted, so although students do need time to gain experience, they also have knowledge in the digital world that - he feels - has been overlooked by an established generation of businesspeople, who can really benefit from a fresh perspective.
Adrian says, "We will be seeking to help more graduates in the future and we wish them all well as they pursue careers in our wonderful industry."
Anna Simpson - who was placed with the Hallcroft team - found that although it was a virtual placement, she was given genuine work that would inevitably be used by the firm. A lot of this consisted of market analysis for prospective development opportunities.
"The level of trust I was given encouraged me to grow and flourish within a development funding environment. I cannot say that I have had this from every internship program I have completed, therefore, I could not have had a better experience."
She says that she found each member of Hallcroft was more than happy to invest their time in ensuring she got the most out of her internship, and is very grateful for the support in helping her to grow her network and make her feel like part of the team.
She has this advice for other students and people who are struggling in their career under current conditions: "I would encourage anyone at this time to keep persisting. Although it is easy to feel helpless in this pandemic, hard work does pay off. Make the effort to connect with professionals. Hear what they have to say. You will find that with their insight, you can directly apply their experiences to your own. Keep inspired and do not give up!"
Wise words, Anna!
To Jane, Anna, and Tom - thanks for letting us support you! We like to help wherever we can, and it's lovely to know we've made even a small difference. We look forward to doing the same again next year.