We all have responsibility to leave our industry in a better state than we entered it, and one way we encourage this at Colliers is through our Schools Engagement Programme.
Bethany Meacham, a surveyor in our Licensed & Leisure team recently visited some of her local schools to speak to the students first hand and offer her perspective on how fun and rewarding a career in property can be. She gives us an insight into her experience.
How did you get involved in the Schools Engagement Programme?
I first got involved in the programme when I was a graduate in 2019. As part of our mandatory training, we had to visit schools to promote real estate as a degree option and surveying as a career. The initial contact we made through this programme has led to connections being built over the last three years.
How did you go about contacting schools to visit?
Our main focus was on girls’ schools to try and boost the demographic of women in property as well as underprivileged schools to help accelerate social mobility. We initially contacted schools that we had a personal connection with. I spoke with the head of careers at my old school and a few others in my team contacted their respective old schools.
When looking for schools that fit the criteria, we focussed on an underprivileged school within close proximity to the office. We found this through various government websites which stated certain statistics such as: English as a first language, single parent households etc.
Were the schools receptive to you offering to come in?
Schools with whom we had personal contacts with were responsive, however some schools approached who we did not have an existing relationship with on a personal level were generally unresponsive, which at times was quite disheartening.
What kind of school/s did you visit? And what age were the kids?
I visited my old senior school which was an all-girls school. We went twice, the first time was a formal group presentation which we delivered to years 11- 13. The second was an informal ‘speed dating’ careers fair where groups of girls had chosen to come and speak with us as they already had an interest in real estate and wanted to know more. The ‘speed dating’ was very casual and also included questions surrounding university as the girls were in years 11-12 and hence were embarking on their university and career choices.
What reception did you get from the students? Did they ask lots of questions? Had they heard of real estate before?
We had a mixed experience from the students, as you can imagine during the more formal presentation there were limited questions as there were teachers present!
In the informal sessions we found the girls really opened up and as more questions came about this sparked further conversation. Most girls hadn’t heard of real estate apart from the route of estate agents, so it was really nice to share with them the career options that were available to them!
What did you get out of the experience?
For me, I felt as though I had limited options in terms of careers when I was in their position, so I wanted to give others the choice and highlight a career which has traditionally been more male-focused.
Following the ‘speed dating’ session one of the points which we focussed on was the importance of work experience. We passed out our business cards to anyone who wanted them and left the option with them. A couple of weeks later I was approached by Lowri to do a few days’ work experience to help her decide upon the career choice of real estate. I also helped to provide her with relevant insights to assist with writing her personal statement for university applications.
About the author
Bethany Meacham joined Colliers as a graduate, after completing her APC in 2021 she became a surveyor in the Licensed & Leisure team based in Birmingham.
To contact Bethany, email Bethany.Meacham@colliers.com