What it's like to do a property surveying degree apprenticeship

Property apprentice and roofline of building
Suba's busy, sociable job means she gets out and about to different London properties and studies for a degree one day a week.

Suba Shanmugavel is a surveying apprentice at JLL. Before joining she took 9 GCSEs and a BTEC level 3.

Suba says...

None of my family work in property and I didn’t have much knowledge of it, but I applied for a job at an estate agent in London. I worked there for just over a year before deciding that I wanted a career change. I researched routes into surveying and found the apprenticeship at JLL. I didn’t want to sacrifice earning a wage, so one of the biggest draws for me was getting a degree without going back to full-time education.

Getting the apprenticeship

The assessment day for my apprenticeship was focused on how I could write and communicate. I think this is because property is all about people and relationships. My best piece of advice would be to get there early so you’re not in a rush; I wish I’d arrived five minutes earlier!

Always on the go

I’ve been on my apprenticeship for nearly five months now. I’m in the agency team and my job is to get space rented. Every morning, I’ll check my emails as there’s usually a backlog. Agencies representing clients will put out a requirement for a space to rent, such as 12,000 square feet in Mayfair, and I respond with all the options we have. I’m usually out of the office for an hour or two every day to conduct viewings. Most spaces are blank canvases with no desks, carpets or painted walls, so I need to help the client see how they can use the space. It’s important to be knowledgeable about the property or you won’t be taken seriously, so I always prepare beforehand.

I like how quickly the time goes by and how sociable my job is. My team sits on the same bank of desks, no matter how senior people are, so we can easily tell each other about what’s happening. We regularly go out for drinks after work and whenever a new property comes onto the market we host a launch event at breakfast or lunch.

I’ll spend up to a year and a half in the agency team and then I’ll move to a different team, such as property management, lease advisory or valuations. I’m quite keen to experience the investment side of things.

Studying online

I’m studying online for a degree in real estate management. I’m given one day every week to study and I tend to stay at home so I don’t get distracted. I’m given material to read (I can buy the books or use the university’s e-library) and there is a weekly webinar. I’m also given tasks to work through, such as a quiz or a video to watch.

Advice for apprentices

Be willing to take on different tasks. Instead of thinking ‘Oh no, I can’t do this’, just ask somebody to run you through it. You should also be a little bit of a sponge. You can absorb a lot of knowledge by listening, asking questions, saying hello to people and growing your network and helping out where you can.

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