To coincide with National Apprenticeship Week 2021, Lauren Cordell gives some insights into her experience of joining Colliers as a degree apprentice – and coping with the challenges of the pandemic.
Lauren, 20, who is a member of the Business Space Lease Advisory team in Colliers’ Bristol office, is undertaking a Chartered Surveyor Apprenticeship with BSc Hons in Real Estate Management. She is one of 12 Chartered Surveyor degree apprentices at Colliers across the UK.
Why did you decide to apply for a degree apprenticeship with Colliers?
I first became interested in apprenticeships whilst I was at school and liked the idea of learning on the job. I’d always been interested in property but wasn’t aware of the apprenticeship opportunities in this sector. I took A-Levels in law, psychology and economics and, at the time, it seemed university was the only option. I considered applying to study property development at university but was deterred by the large student loan debt I would accrue. I decided to take a year out after college to work full time and to keep searching for the right apprenticeship.
In January 2020, I began searching for apprenticeships and the one that stood out and appealed the most to me was the chartered surveyor apprenticeship at Colliers. I didn’t know much about commercial property at that stage, but after researching the industry I decided to apply.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your application to join the degree apprenticeship scheme at Colliers?
COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on the 11th of March. The final stage of my application process was scheduled to take place two weeks later. Consequently, my face-to-face interview became a Facetime call.
In April, I was very pleased to find out that Colliers had offered me a place on the scheme starting in September 2020. However, as the months passed the COVID-19 situation worsened, I was concerned about whether I’d still be able to start my apprenticeship. It was a huge relief to be able to start and go into the office.
Can you tell us about your experience of starting work as an apprentice during the pandemic?
When I joined the Bristol team most people were working from home and social distancing was in place for those working in the office.
After some initial office-based training, my team arranged my workload to allow for a mix of working from home and going into the office, which we had to book in advance. It’s odd because even after five months I haven’t met many of the people that I work with and I haven’t experienced a day in the office with more than six people!
However, we have weekly catch up calls with the office as well as with our team across the UK, which is great.
Luckily, everyone at Colliers has been friendly and welcoming, and I know they’re just a quick call away. It’s a weird concept to feel as if you know someone well even though you haven’t met them face to face.
I’ve become good friends with my fellow apprentice who works in Manchester. I’m fortunate that we started at the same time, doing the same thing. We can relate to what we’re both doing and give each other guidance - albeit virtually!
So how would you describe your experience so far?
In summary, I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to join the scheme at Colliers, now more than ever.
Working as an apprentice while studying for a degree is demanding and requires effective time management, but I’m enjoying being able to apply what I’m learning to the work that I’m doing in the Business Space Lease Advisory team.
It is challenging working remotely, learning from home and not having someone opposite to ask questions. However, I am excited for the future and I’m looking forward to being able to finally meet everyone!