There are a number of avenues you can explore within the property industry- Development Manager, Property Valuer, Town Planner, Property Analyst or Real Estate agent, to name just a few.
Looking at development specifically, there isn’t really any universal property related degree that will align directly to the job description. Personally, I began studying a Bachelor of Town Planning and Urban Development at UNSW before progressing onto my Bachelor of Property Economics at UTS.
My partial planning degree was undoubtedly of higher interest to prospective employers when I was going through the interview process.
This degree gave me a sound understanding of the development process as a whole and importantly how councils and state planning policies work in relation to having development applications being approved.
Although I recognised the importance of Town Planning to the development process I chose to transfer across to economics as the idea of working in a council did not really appeal to me.
The Property Economics degree focused more on property valuations and gave a very brief introduction into development feasibilities. This gave me a better avenue to join the work force in the private sector.
But like I said, development’s pretty broad and there is no one degree that will set you apart. I come into contact with developers who have nothing more than a Real Estate license or a diploma in Valuation so it’s just how you can find a way to apply your skill set/interest to a development.
Landing a role:
I met a guy at after work drinks one day, and a few months later when I was looking for new work I called him up and asked him out for a coffee. I was quite surprised at how eager he was to help me purely because I took it upon myself to make contact. He was overly helpful to get me in contact with employers he knew who may be willing to speak with me – It’s a relatively small industry, everyone knows everyone.
From my experience, employers look for ‘self-starters’. So don’t be shy and take initiative and call someone off your own back. If you have a phone number call as opposed to email.
If you are interested in establishing a career in property development, I would recommend looking for an Assistant Development Manager (ADM) role after University.
ADM roles are quite sought after, but are typically only recruited by larger companies every so often, in many cases after a 2 year grad programme.
Or else, any junior roles in planning or valuation, or even property management are really relevant alternatives.
What’s it like in the industry?
People and investors have a lot of money at stake and are expecting results quickly, making it a really fast paced industry. On an average day I’m either in the office doing market research on developments similar to the ones I work on, or I am on site meeting with clients and building relationships. My firm is smaller, which means a lot of my role is about managing different stakeholders and contractors.
The biggest change us the increasing competitiveness of smaller/private development consultancy firms (largely due to foreign investment in to Aussie property). Institutions (Lend Lease, Mirvac, Meriton and the like) are holding less significant financial advantages. I work on a project where a private owner bought a $30 million land site- 10 years ago these opportunities were only available to bigger companies.
I work on projects that will eventually ‘come out of the ground’ and become people’s homes/work places one day. There is a lot of number crunching and market research that goes into it but the idea that you’re creating a structure and something physical that will be there for a long time to come really appeals to me.
And finally, I really enjoy the interaction and relationships side of the industry. A developer is responsible for bringing together all aspects of construction (planning, project marketing, finances, construction even design to some extent) so there is a heavy reliance on communication and an ability to manage people just as much as the project itself.