Next month, Robert Gordon University architectural technology student Pamela Robertson will represent Northern Scotland at the final of the Association of Women in Property National Student Awards at Claridge’s Hotel in London.
Now in its fifth year, the competition is recognised as one of the toughest and most significant in the profession since it highlights the most outstanding students of the year. It is open to female, third year students studying a Built Environment degree course.
“The standard is incredibly high because the students are nominated by their lecturers and tutors, so only the very best even get to the regional final stage,” said Catherine Thornhill, chairman of WiP Northern Scotland and Associate at Ryden. “There are 10 regional finals with 38 universities nominating 59 students in 2011. They can put on their CV that they have achieved this and that is something that will always stay with them.”
Regional winners each receive £300, an opportunity for work experience, free membership of the Association upon graduating and the opportunity to participate in the WiP mentoring programme whereby a mentor will support her in her early career.
The first national winner and past regional winner, Fiona Forrest, now working in Aberdeen, found her award success invaluable to her career. “Having to face a formal interviewing panel as part of the awards process was quite scary but it was good preparation for later job interviews. It made my CV stand out from all the others and it gave potential employers something different to ask me about,” she said.
• Recognise the talent available to the industry at the earliest possible stage
• Highlight to industry the necessity to link with universities early in the education process
• Broaden the opportunities open to students as they progress through their university career
• Improve the knowledge of those at university on the career options available
• Improve the students’ skills to present their coursework.
A crucial part of the regional winner prize is an opportunity for work experience.
“Many employers don’t realise that work placement is part of many course requirements” said Catherine. “If a student doesn’t get that opportunity it is more difficult for them to progress through their academic requirements and into a career so we are always looking for companies to offer work experience placements.”
WiP members are very aware that many employers in their industry are on strict budgets and working with tight resources and find it difficult to justify staff time to mentor and monitor students. However, they also know that investment in this new talent will reap dividends for both employer and student, as Amanda McCulloch, Managing Director at Thorpe Molloy Recruitment, explains,
“Often employers worry that they don’t have the time to dedicate to a work placement student but the experience is most likely to be worthwhile for everyone involved if it is planned properly and executed professionally. There should be a job description, induction, support from a supervisor and an evaluation at the end to determine if the placement objectives have been met.
“Particularly for smaller companies, which are not as well known as larger firms, placements can be an effective way of attracting future new graduate recruits by demonstrating the type of work available while promoting a positive company image. Students can offer new ideas and a cost-effective flexible resource but, like any new staff member, wherever possible it’s important that the employer goes through a candidate selection process.
“Placements can also provide a great opportunity for permanent staff professional development, such as coaching work with students, project management, planning and evaluation.”