Graduating from university is a thrilling and slightly overwhelming moment – after years of study it is time to get out there and get a job, yet this is not always as straightforward as it sounds.
Where university has a fairly clear path – even if there were lots of individual unit choices to be made – the route to a fruitful career is not quite so structured. There are many vocational degrees that naturally lend themselves to further study or a profession (law or medicine, for example), but plenty of other subjects just show you are interested and knowledgeable about a topic, without necessarily being suited for a specific job role.
There is no denying that a degree is still a worthwhile qualification, particularly in a tough jobs market, since it demonstrates that you have the discipline to learn and the ability to achieve something challenging. One sector that may well present itself as you search for a job following your studies is property…
Getting into property
There are differing opinions as to whether you need a degree to get into property; naturally, more traditionally trained positions such as chartered surveyors require extensive study, but entry-level roles in sales or lettings are often open to non-graduates. However, in a competitive jobs market, firms know they can seek out the best and so can actively specify candidates with a degree to their name.
Some people may have actually done a degree in a property-related subject, but even those who have something less relevant on their CV could find they are well suited to the sector. In many positions, what matters most is a person’s ability to make a sale, complete a let or satisfy an irate customer. A degree opens the door, but it is a graduate’s natural enthusiasm and competence that secures them a long-term position – as well as higher financial compensation.
Whether it is property management, sales, lettings or any other sub-sector of the property sphere, plenty of graduates in recent years have ended up in this industry. In some ways, it lends itself well to a graduate mindset; often former students are keen to avoid the archetypal nine-to-five desk job, which is rarely the form in property roles.
In terms of actually securing employment, it always helps to sign up with a recruitment agency, but also see if you can do an internship or get some work experience in a firm. This type of thing will help boost your CV, particularly if your degree subject is not hugely related.
Graduates in property
Modern university life revolves around meeting people, seeing places and discussing shared experiences. While a property job is not the employment equivalent of backpacking around Europe or debating the politics of Karl Marx, there is a real sense that no two days are the same – and people are central to almost everything that is done.
Granted, there is paperwork to be done – just like the vast majority of jobs – but so much of the work involves speaking to people and visiting the properties being discussed – often needing to work out problems relating to regulations or special requests. This combination can be very attractive, particularly when you take into account that there are a real range of roles to aim for once you are on the ladder.
Another factor that plays a part is money. University students may not be as poor as they once were (their student loans will often keep city economies afloat these days!), but they never have much to spare. The low pay-high commission standard that is common in many property roles means that there is a very real link between workplace success and how much cash goes in your wallet – a breath of fresh air after the low financial reward of academic success…
The world of work
Not all graduates in property jobs set out to work in property originally; this is a fact. If your degree is not in a vocational subject, then you might find yourself unsure of which way to turn for a satisfying career. In fact, Office for National Statistics figures from 2012 reveal that one in five new graduates were unemployed after leaving education, which highlights how tough it is out there for students when they hit the world of work.
Importantly, some graduates find that their employment opportunities are restricted by their expectations; perhaps they are not willing to move to London for work (21 per cent of graduate jobs in 2010/11 were in the South East, says the Higher Education Careers Services Unit), or they are not interested in looking at ‘related’ jobs or entirely new sectors.
A degree is a sign that you have the potential to be a committed worker, but this potential needs a platform on which to be realised – make sure you explore every avenue and find a job that fits what you want from your career. A property role could provide just that.