Our experts offer their solutions to all your careers headaches

I am in the second year of a real estate management degree. When I started, I didn’t understand what working as a surveyor would involve. Now that I know more, I’m not sure a career in surveying is for me. What will I be able to do with my degree?

The scope, situations, locations and opportunities that a chartered surveyor could choose to become involved with are endless.

The world of the chartered surveyor is not that of the lawyer, who is destined to a nocturnal life of well-paid drafting monotony, nor is it like that of the accountant who, although well paid, struggles daily with balancing numbers and dealing with Revenue and Customs.

While working directly in property is fun, diverse and rewarding at several different levels, a property qualification can lead to a career in one of the many facets of property or could even lead you to a more broadly based business career.

University is an unreal environment where you learn the theory and mostly fail to understand the implications or applications of what you are studying.

The reality is that a real estate management degree is an excellent business management course that can and often does lead to a career outside the pure property profession.

Employers in all sectors are seeking well-rounded, educated employees who have common sense and a good grounding in the basics of business. Property degrees certainly provide this.

If I look at the people of my year and those that qualified with me, many are still in property, but the majority have moved on to other areas of business, from financial services to management consultancy, or have become entrepreneurs.

Stick with the course and, ideally, become qualified, and you will have proved something to yourself as well as to others and be well placed to access numerous options, in or outside the property world.

I’m 32 and have been working in retail agency for nearly six years. I want a break. I never had a gap year and really want to go travelling for at least six months. I want to hand in my notice at my current job and start afresh when I get back. Do you think that I will struggle to find a new job afterwards?

For those who have never travelled for a period or taken a gap year, the desire to experience another side of life often becomes compelling. Employers increasingly look on candidates who have taken a sabbatical or career break as good hires because they return to the profession with a clear plan, renewed vigour and clarity that their chosen niche is for them.

Some professionals end up feeling trapped within a specialist area of property that in some cases they feel is not ideally suited to their abilities. Time out lets them truly consider this.

If your break is 12 months or less, I do not think that you will have any problems returning to retail agency. If your trip is more than 12 months, employers will, I suspect, start to question whether you have lost too much of the sector knowledge that makes you valuable to them.

The property market has become increasingly global over the past few years, and it is worth considering working for part of your time out in other countries. The experience you will gain will not only pay for more sun tan lotion and beer but will add that added dimension to your marketability when you return.

You could also consider working longer term in another country. UK-qualified professionals are in big demand in many parts of the world. Two years in the heat of Dubai, tax free, is pretty inviting, as is the ‘tax-lite’ cosmopolitan delights of Hong Kong.

A stint in Australia to escape the British winter also has its attractions. People with experience of other markets are becoming increasingly marketable, once they have returned to the UK.

One of the other graduates who started at my firm at the same time as me is already making a name for himself. He has been involved in some big deals already and keeps boasting. I’m afraid that I’m going to be left behind.

How can I get myself noticed?

It is indeed important to get noticed by the senior team. However, in most cases, it is your own self-doubt that leads you to think that someone else is being noticed more than you.

As we all know, people who boast generally have least to boast about and do themselves no favours with peers or those they should impress. Peter Moore is Managing Director of Macdonald & Company, the only recruitment consultancy approved by the RICSPeter Moore is Managing Director of Macdonald & Company, the only recruitment consultancy approved by the RICS

Being involved in a big deal in your early days is about a matter of luck and being in the right place at the right time, particularly if you are in a big firm and you work in different departments for six months or so at a time.

In any work environment, making an impression takes time. What really matters is a consistent good attitude and achievement.

To get promoted, you need to be noticed and recognised as a consistent long-term achiever who delivers and innovates.

What really impresses are the simple things such as, being early, willingly working late when needed, assisting with projects that are not directly your responsibility, becoming involved with other activities at your employer, delivering accurate, thoughtful work and, most importantly, having the right attitude.

Yes, the big deal will come along, which will help you on your way, but to be really appreciated, be positive, and strive to be the best all-round graduate by making an impact in all the teams in which you work.

And you needn’t be afraid of being too enthusiastic.

Published 04 January 2008.