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Press Article

Metro - 30 August 2013

Starting a career in property

By Jo Eccles

In a drive to increase the diversity of the property sector, a new initiative has been launched called ‘Pathway to Property’. Through a summer school held at the University of Reading, the project is designed to offer students from less privileged backgrounds an insight into university life and the potential career path into the property sector.

Launched by the Reading Real Estate Foundation, and in partnership with British Land and education charity, The Sutton Trust, the first summer school course took place last month and was attended by 41 teenagers from poorer backgrounds. Similar to other professions such as banking, the property industry has been criticised for recruiting too many ‘Hooray Henrys’ and not attracting enough candidates from more diverse backgrounds.

Having worked in the industry myself for nearly 9 years, I do accept that certain firms recruit a fixed stereotype. You only need to call a number of offices within certain estate agency chains and you’ll soon see a clear recruitment pattern emerging. However, this is not the case for all agents.

Over the past couple of years, a number of independent estate agent firms have opened, and many have a fresh, diverse approach to the industry which is refreshing to see. My advice to anyone looking to get into property is to show genuine passion for the sector. From a young age, I had pinpointed every house in my neighbourhood which I aspired to own, and I even used to build houses out of Lego! Whilst I do accept that I probably had my career path figured out from an unusually young age, it does frustrate me when I receive CVs from candidates who fail to demonstrate any real interest in property.

You don’t necessarily need to have experience. Other ways could include demonstrating that you’re an avid viewer of Grand Designs each week and discussing the favourite projects you’ve seen on the show. Being able to talk passionately about your favourite architecture and interior design styles and why you like them, or a fascination with how property is valued, will show you have read up about the subject and have a genuine and vested interest in it.

To succeed in this industry, you need two things: to be great with people and have a genuine love for property – your background is irrelevant.