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Ben Meynell: Young Property Professional Blog: The First 18 Months...1st June 2012

Ben Meynell, 23, Innes England

I graduated from the University of Reading in the summer of 2010 with a Bsc Hons in Land Management. I wasn’t quite ready for the world of work so I decided to spend my last summer (before entering the world of work) in style - travelling in South America.

I spent two fantastic months away, arriving back in England one Friday afternoon and promptly began my career at Innes England the following Monday… it was a cultural shock to say the least!

Everyone talks about how difficult it is to find a job after university, but I think the transition from being a student to having a full time job was the biggest challenge for me. I don’t think I was fully prepared on what to expect!

When I started with Innes England I was based in the professional team made up of the managing director and two other surveyors. I was tasked with carrying out valuations and ratings, as well as some agency. I really hit the ground running and it was good experience, however for a few weeks, I must admit, I felt like ‘the work experience boy’.

After a couple of months I was no longer the new chap in the office and was fully immersed with a range of responsibilities and (pardon the cliché) I ‘really started to feel part of the team.’ I don’t think most people can remember how daunting that first job can be. Not only are you leaving the safety net of university, but you’re also working alongside people who are much more experienced than you, you will find that some of the old boys in the profession don’t take to working with graduates, you really have to show your worth and prove yourself.

On reflection from September to Christmas I learnt a lot, and I started to put the theory I learnt at university in to practice. I realised very quickly that nothing teaches you more than on the job experience, which is why I would urge any students reading this to undertake as much work experience as possible.

After Christmas, I changed departments. I’d spent four months in the professional team when a position came available in the retail team. One of the directors sat me down and asked if I would consider the move. I can’t remember exactly what he said but it was along the lines of - ‘Ben I think agency will better suit you, to be honest I don’t think you are cut out for valuation. You are much more of a people person and maths is not your strong point…’ I took this as a compliment! Although valuation was a good starting point, I knew from previous work experience, that I much preferred the more social / people orientated agency role of surveying rather than the number crunching.
Initially, when I joined the retail team, there was just myself and the head of department. I took on the role of someone who had been at the firm for around five years, so I was very much thrown in at the deep end.

I was dealing directly with clients, retailers and enquiries on a day to day basis. Over the following 12 months my confidence grew and I was given much more responsibility.

Since I started in retail the team has doubled in size and the breadth and depth of experience around me is very beneficial to my development.
Now I’ve been with the firm 18 months, I can reflect on what I’ve learnt since I left university. When I first started applying for jobs I sent my CV out to as many companies as possible, big / small, corporate / partnerships, I was just really keen to get started. Now, looking at the level of responsibility I have had, I feel that I have learnt so much more than I potentially would have done in a larger corporate firm. From my experience at Innes England I have had the opportunity to work closely with directors and the MD which has allowed me to get involved in all aspects of the job, whereas in some of the larger corporates you can merely be a small cog in a huge machine.

Now the first 18 months are out the way I face the dreaded APC… wish me luck!

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