Anybody reading this who is nearing the end of their University life or who has recently graduated, I hope these are useful words of wisdom. A few weeks before graduating from Manchester University, I started an internship here at Around Town Flats as a Lettings Administrator. To be honest, I hadn’t the faintest idea what I wanted to do as a career. A few ideas ran through my head but nothing that I definitely knew I wanted to commit to. This internship offered me exactly what I needed and I am so glad that I chose to join the team here.
The biggest step was making that transition between student and working life – safe it to say it isn’t easy! Suddenly you wonder how you struggled to get in for a 10am lecture. Living in Manchester makes the transition more a lot more bearable – with Around Town Flats being so centrally located on the main road, I have often taken it for granted how short my journey has been to and from work every day. Whilst working I have made more of my weekends and explored the parts of Manchester that I had never previously been anywhere near to.
One of the best things about my internship year here is that no day is the same. You would think a Lettings Administrator would get tired of doing the same tasks each day, but it has been far from that. I would be keen to turn up to work – each day would often bring an obstacle that would be the day’s challenge to conquer. From arranging a viewing for somebody at a property to handing over the keys, you really get a sense of achievement and it’s highly rewarding. I think seeing the difference and the progression you are making is often an underrated aspect of working that people overlook. I have built on so many skills and personal attributes in the office that when I look back at my first day, there is such a difference.
Working in a small company for over a year has made me realise the true benefits of working in a smaller office environment. I get the impression a lot of people have a strong desire to work for large and more well-known businesses. Working here at Around Town Flats is very much like a work family. The teams integrate and you get the chance to know each different team. I soon came out of my shell and felt more relaxed at work. I was never afraid to speak up if I wasn’t sure about anything, and going for after work drinks and such. The highlight event for me was our Christmas Do in Spinningfields! These events have proved to be another good way of getting to know colleagues outside of work.
As I briefly touched on earlier, being a Lettings Administrator hasn’t confined me to a strict set of daily tasks. One thing I have loved about working here is how flexible the work is and the opportunity to take on different roles at times and help out other teams. I got the chance to go out with the Property Management Team on inspections and inventories, have a shot at taking marketing photos and do some arrears reporting! This has broadened my skillset and I managed to get an insight into how the other teams work – in a small office, I think this is really valuable as I am confident that this will translate in to how big companies are run.
Starting your first real job can be scary and I certainly found it very daunting at the beginning as well as exciting. I had no prior knowledge of property and it was all completely new to me. Around Town Flats were welcoming and supportive from Day 1. They funded me to go on professional training courses which meant a few days out of the office in Chester. On top of all the free food and snacks provided, the training days proved to be very interesting! There was a lot of information to take in and they wanted to cover as much material as possible in the timeframe, so at the end of the day I was mentally exhausted. Nevertheless, coming back home and bringing my notes into the office meant I could look back on them and refresh my mind. I could start putting what I learnt into practice. Even though I was still very much a newbie in the office, I felt a lot more knowledgeable when talking to tenants and landlords. I actually began to understand what I was talking about and I could take more phone call queries. Getting the opportunity to go on these training days boosted my confidence. I got to meet new people working in the same industry from different backgrounds with different experiences and I strongly believe that confidence is half way to doing your job well.
In the Lettings Team here, just because you are the intern it doesn’t mean you are treated as inferior to the rest of your work colleagues. Here you actually have a say in decision-making and feel valued and important! I guess in many jobs, perhaps more so in larger companies, you can feel somewhat anonymous and almost like you cannot make a difference. I have been lucky to work closely with my Manager over the past year, tailoring how they train me according to how I prefer and not being afraid to speak up. Over the spring period, I helped re-design the lettings process we use at Around Town Flats to make it easier for the customers that, once finalised, gave me a great sense of achievement as I contributed ideas and I was then able to see them working out in practice. This was and continues to be rewarding.
The Property Industry is a forever-changing sector. I have learnt that the legislation is always changing and as a team we have had to adapt to the new changes and of course keep an eye out for them/anything to catch us out. This is something that I have enjoyed being involved in, and I have enjoyed overcoming the challenges as new legislation has been brought in.
If you’ve managed to read this far you may be thinking – so what next? This year has been such a good introduction to the world of work and has kept my options open; it hasn’t tied me down to pursuing a career in property by any means. Nearing to the end of my internship I have been applying for and subsequently having interviews for a number of jobs in Manchester. ATF have been so supportive in the interview process by giving me tips, practice interviews, and help in searching for any possibilities. Of course you’d be very lucky to stroll into a job after your first interview, especially after more than a year of not having any but I have learnt that practice will eventually make perfect! In each interview or initial job application I’ve had, I have managed to draw on so many skills from this internship. For example giving a specific (and very true!) example for each. All those difficult customers, times of high pressure and working to deadlines were fully worth it after all!
So if you are not sure what to take as your next step after University life, keep an eye out for the Lettings Intern position here! If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing and it has really prepared me for my next chapter.