How to get an internship in property
Work experience will make your graduate job hunt much easier; not only will it show property recruiters that you have seriously considered a career in the property profession, work experience is the perfect way to develop the skills that you will need in your graduate career.
Different types of work experience
Larger property firms will typically run internships during the summer. These are intended for students who are about to begin either the final year of a property-related degree or a postgraduate degree. Some employers will also accept internship applications from students who have not studied a property-related degree.
Some property firms offer insight days or open days. These are designed to give first-year students a taste of work in the property profession and to introduce them to an employer. These days usually involve a mixture of workshops, observing work (called work shadowing) and networking with current employees, including its graduates and recruiters.
If you are studying a degree accredited by a professional body such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), your course may include the option to do a industrial placement (also called a sandwich placement). This will involve spending a year working at a property firm between the second and final years of your degree.
At any point, you can arrange informal work experience with an employer who does not offer any formal internship opportunities. The exact details of informal experience will depend on what the employer can offer you. Typically, you might spend your time on work experience helping out around the office, sitting in on meetings and work shadowing. There may also be opportunities to talk to the employer and ask questions.
When and how to apply for internships
Large property firms will advertise their internships and other work experience opportunities on TARGETjobs (see below) and on their own websites.
- Formal summer internships tend to be open for applications between January and April.
- Insight day and open day applications have previously opened in February and March.
- Informal work experience takes time to organise. You should apply a least a couple of weeks in advance of when you would like to carry out the experience.
Industrial placement years will be advertised by your university’s careers service and by work placement tutors, as well as on TARGETjobs. Applications tend to be accepted around December and January.
The application process for property internships
The application process for property internships contains many of the same elements as the application process for graduate jobs. The first step will usually be submitting an online application form, a CV and/or a covering letter. Find out more about how you can tailor your CV and covering letter for the property profession and for a specific employer here.
If you are successful in this initial application, you are likely to be invited to complete an interview. You may complete one or more of these different types of interview: telephone interview, an online video interview or a face-to-face interview.
Recruiters use these interviews to assess candidates’ transferable skills and their enthusiasm for working in property. If you are studying an RICS-accredited degree, there may also be some technical questions, but internship candidates will not be expected to have the same level of technical knowledge as property graduates.
It’s likely that internship candidates will be invited to an assessment centre, which may include a face-to-face interview. Employers such as JLL and Knight Frank have previously included assessment centres in their internship application processes. Assessment centres can include activities such as: presentations, group exercises, case study exercises, written assessments and networking opportunities.
Other ways to impress property employers
Internships and work experience aren’t the only ways to demonstrate that you have an interest in working in property. Joining a professional body, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), is a necessary step towards becoming chartered and is evidence of your commitment to a career in property. Professional bodies organise talks by industry professionals, networking events and property-related competitions; you will be able to talk about getting involved with these in internship applications and interviews.
You can develop the transferable skills that property employers look for through part-time jobs and extracurricular activities. Make sure to highlight the skills you’ve gained through part-time jobs and other non-property work experience and extracurricular activities on CVs and applications in the same way you would with property-related internships and experience.