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Steph Yates Blog: Following your head not your heart?1st February 2013

Steph Yates, Assistant Consultant, Remit Consulting

I never really wanted to go into property. It's not that I disliked the idea, it's just that I wanted to do photography or art. However my conscience had other ideas, "do something vocational" it said, "you'll get a job out of something vocational."  Ahh, silly conscience, what does it know, eh?

I ended up following in my father's footsteps. As an asset manager he seems happy in his job, he's supported a family, and more importantly has had a series of nice cars to show for it - what more could I ask for out of a career? So after completing my A-Levels I started at Reading University studying Land Management (now Real Estate Management).

In hindsight, clearly my reasoning wasn't quite right. I had expected theodolites and day trips and a few cows, it was LAND management after all. Instead I was dealt law, economics and a good helping of maths. However, I stuck with it - stayed the course if you'll pardon the pun - and graduated in 2009... hit the worst job market for 20 years. We had started a degree for which we were told that 95 per cent of the leavers who wanted a job in property had secured one upon graduation, but in reality I would guess our post-crash figure was closer to 10 per cent. Many companies had cut their graduate intake by up to a fifth, Drivers Jonas went from an intake of 30 to just six, while some chose to suspend it entirely. GVA had to withdraw some of the contracts it had offered and several companies made redundancies within their existing graduate pool, often mid-way through the APC process.

However I'd stuck with property this far, and it was the only qualification I had. For nearly two years I applied for every property job I could think of, in every sector I knew of. I worked part-time in a recruitment agency to keep the pennies rolling in, and I learnt some of the tricks of the trade, but nothing seemed to help.

Until one day my dad contacted me to let me know that an old friend Andrew, a management consultant and Partner at Remit Consulting, was looking for a temp to help out with a new project he'd just picked up. Andrew and I met in a local coffee shop while I was on my lunch break from the agency, it was a very informal meet and shortly afterwards I was told that the job was mine! Three months later I went permanent and now, 18 months down the line, I haven't looked back.

I learnt a lot of lessons while job hunting. For those struggling with the lack of opportunities that come after graduating, especially in this economic climate, I would say:

  • Keep an open mind: consider all the jobs that go towards supporting the sector you've chosen, not just the clear cut property/asset management jobs you've been trained for (unless you are sure you know what you want to do).
  • Keep trying: stick with your convictions and don't give up looking for that job. Try not to get disillusioned by the stream of rejections, and don't be afraid to accept other work in the meantime.
  • Don't be too proud to accept help from your contacts: it may be a family member or a friend that gets you an interview, but ultimately it is still you and your performance at that interview that gets the job.

I’m now working in a role I never knew existed, for a market I never knew was there. And I’m glad I was forced to wait as I’m not sure I would have lasted long in the conflicting world between landlords and tenants. Maybe I should be thanking my conscience after all.

About Steph Yates
Steph is an Assistant Consultant at Remit Consulting, a management consultancy for real estate firms. She has worked on a wide variety of projects from market research to property management retenders to IT system implementations. She is also working towards gaining her APC and in her spare time she enjoys photography and rifle shooting. You can find her on Twitter at @remitsteph

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