Last month, CBRE hosted an internship week for 25 young people in partnership with Career Ready, a UK charity at the heart of a network of employers and educators who believe that every young person deserves the opportunity to enjoy a rewarding future.

Jo Winchester

Jo Winchester

CBRE UK Advisory is committed to delivering a range of activities for young people across the UK. This includes mentoring, skills masterclasses, work placements, workplace visits and workshops that open up the doors to our industry. We are also committed to offering 75 paid internships over three years, providing young people with valuable experience in the world of work but also raising awareness of career opportunities in the property industry. This activity is a flagship of our diversity, equity and inclusion ambitions to broaden the reach of our apprenticeship and graduate programmes and our goal is to highlight real estate as a career pathway to those who might not be aware of it.

Having come from a less privileged background than some, I recall some of the social and professional barriers I’ve faced along the way, and therefore I was pleased to be approached to be a mentor for our young interns. I remember having no contacts in the industry or relevant personal role models when I first entered the job market, and this is why I’m very passionate to be involved in supporting these young people.

During the week, I was matched with a young woman, who seemed very nervous at first and I wondered how we would relate to one another. We went to grab a coffee and I found myself falling back on my mentoring skills. I decided the best approach was to ask questions to encourage her to tell me about herself and giving me the opportunity to listen. I asked her some questions about her college course, work experience and what she had learned about the property industry so far.

As the conversation went on, she opened up more and told me about her previous work experience in various family businesses. As a result of the Career Ready week at CBRE, she showed great interest in applying for our apprenticeship scheme. She showed me her CV and I suggested she update her ‘personal summary’ to better reflect her newfound aspirations and expanding horizons.

On reflection, I recognise that although my background was a powerful motivation for taking part as a Career Ready mentor, it was irrelevant to the actual conversation. It was all about my mentee, and I believe that this experience proved invaluable in influencing her decision and giving her the confidence to actively apply for the apprenticeship. There are so many young people whose talents we are losing out on as our industry is not present when they are making significant careers decisions at 17.

At the end of the week, I was also invited to attend group presentations prepared by the delegates, focused on ESG credentials of numerous large corporations. I was blown away by the research undertaken by our interns and their delivery was engaging and fun. The mood in the room was energised compared with Monday, and I could see the interns had learnt a lot during the week.

It’s great that CBRE is leading the way in trying to widen access to the property industry, and Career Ready is an excellent partner organisation to help achieve this.

Jo Winchester is executive director, valuation and advisory services, at CBRE