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1st Friday

GLOBAL SOCIABLE SCENE Lindsay Watling meets Sociable Surveyors' jet-setting interns


he Sociable Surveyors graduate internship scheme began a second round of placements this summer. The brainchild of Kingston University alumni Elliott Sparsis and Sebastian Abigail, it enables students to apply for all-expenses-paid international placements with a top frm — simply by submitting a two-minute video. The company is sponsored by the RICS, Land Securities, Property Week, London South Bank University, Hammerson and Deverell Smith Recruitment, and ofers 30 paid placements in some of the world’s best, including Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi. Successful candidates spent two weeks in London before jetting of for a further fortnight abroad. Here, they share their stories …

Parisian perspective Tim Pierce did his frst property internship when he was just 16 and spent most of the time making cups of tea. There was no “thé” in sight, however, during his two weeks at Hammerson in Paris this summer. As well as working in the capital, the 21-year-old from Marlborough in Wiltshire, was fown to Marseille for the day to visit its Les Terrasses du Port regeneration project at the city’s old port. “That was the highlight for me,” says the real estate management undergraduate, who is starting his fnal year at Oxford Brookes University. “Hammerson is developing a shopping centre there and it was in the building phase. It

was interesting to see the construction side, rather than procurement and lettings, which is what I have mostly been doing," he adds. But Pierce still had the opportunity to enjoy some down time. “I went round the whole of Paris, so I saw a few impressive landmarks," he says. "I saw most of the things tourists go to visit, but I was walking round with French people. "Seeing the city from a local’s perspective was a lot better than seeing it as a tourist. I wasn’t walking round with a camera. I was walking round with other French guys and experiencing it from their side.”

Aussie adventures Land economy undergraduate Gabrielle Cummins enjoyed two placements for the price of one in Australia this summer. The 20-year-old from Kent, who is about to start her third year at Cambridge University, spent one week at Savills in Sydney and a second at the frm’s Melbourne branch. Despite only being there for a fortnight, she says it felt as though she was living there. “I shadowed people on a rotation system, so I got experience of all sectors — valuation one day, ofce leasing the next,” she says. “I got a real feel for the company.” As well as gaining work experience, she says the trip was a chance to venture out into the world. “It was about my ability to go of on my own, be independent, meet people and get some transferable skills,” she explains. “It has broadened my horizons, so now,


when I graduate, there is nothing to say I will stay in London — the global nature of the industry means I don’t have to. “The international experience will be of beneft on my CV. I think, if I was applying for something abroad, it would defnitely help.” Despite taking on two diferent cities in two weeks, Cummins still found time to take in an Aussie rules football match. “Everyone was really nice, really inclusive. They took me out with them socially and I did some travelling at the weekends,” she says. “I liked both cities. Sydney was fun, but the centre was really empty at the weekends. "Melbourne was such a contrast. It was packed and had a much more ‘European’ feel about it.”

Tokyo taste test Real estate graduate James Webster spent two weeks with the research and consulting department at Savills in Tokyo. The 21-year-old from Harrogate, who left Reading University in June, had an interesting professional — and gastronomic — journey. “Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and the scale of the place is unrivalled. The food was pretty crazy. I had sea urchin and a lot of sushi. I went to a beach party, and I was also invited to go to Osaka on the bullet train.” Webster has already landed a job with the Church Commissioners — the property department of the Church of England — and believes having the Sociable Surveyors internship on his CV helped get him the job. “In a competitive job market, anything that helps your CV stand out is positive. It enhanced my employability, which was brilliant," he says. “From a professional perspective, although

real estate is often described as a local game, it is an increasingly global market, infuenced by trends on the other side of the world. "We need to be aware of what’s going on in Shanghai and Tokyo because it afects the UK, so it was great to experience it frsthand.” Webster says he would defnitely recommend the scheme because of the simplicity of applying. “It contrasts with the usual process of numerous rounds of face-to-face interviews and psychometric tests,” he explains. “And to top it all of, it’s free. I was staying in a hotel in the heart of Tokyo, just 10 minutes from where I was working, and I received a wage while I was there, as well.”

Shanghai highlights When Will Buttery was growing up in Portsmouth, he used to see his grandfather’s "for sale" signs in the high street — and a dream was born. Back then, he could never have imagined that at just 22, he would be working for Knight Frank in Shanghai, with a pocketful of business cards displaying his name in Chinese. But that is exactly how the real estate undergraduate has been spending his summer, before heading back to Nottingham Trent University for his fnal year. He has just returned from a two-week placement with the ofce’s investment and capital transactions team, where his tasks included helping to pitch for a $110m project. “Shanghai is an incredible market, which is rapidly growing,” he says. “So the chance to experience it frsthand is invaluable at

such an early stage in my career. This is the kind of thing that senior surveyors in London would never get to do. It is an internship redefned: fnancially I would never have been able to aford it on my own. “The biggest thing for me is that it has opened my eyes to the size of the international real estate market.” Despite sitting in on multimillion-dollar deals, it was not all work and no play for Buttery, who enjoyed lots of sightseeing and

an evening river cruise through the city. “I also went to a few restaurants, but I had no idea what the menus said, so I just pointed at a couple of things and hoped for the best,” he says. “The Chinese's sense of hospitality is incredible — no job was too small. They went out of their way to help me. My team took me out to lunch every day. I wanted to pay, but they wouldn't let me." When Buttery got back home after work, the luxury continued. “The hotel where I stayed is on the Shanghai version of Oxford Street. It is full of bright lights and fagship retail stores. At the end of it, you come to the fnancial district, which blows Canary Wharf out of the water. There are huge towers of 60 to 80 storeys high — it's quite a sight,” he recalls. 9

View video diaries of the interns' travels at


Global Sociable Scene  
Global Sociable Scene  

Lindsay Watling meets Sociable Surveyors' jet-setting interns.