Meet Ali Siddiqi, an Apprentice Surveyor for JLL, and a member of The Pathway CTM Student Advisory Board. Ali shares his journey from 6th Form to Apprentice.
What does your day look like as an Apprentice Surveyor?
As an apprentice, I work at the JLL headquarters for 4 days each week, studying my degree on the 5th day. Working in residential development sales for new homes, I have a variety of responsibilities. I travel across London to visit property developments that JLL are instructed to sell, where I meet with my senior colleagues, to discuss the development’s USPs (Unique Selling Points), whether that be local schools, transport links, or restaurants. I call clients regularly to discuss the new developments available, which can be a promising investment or a home for them to live in.
I have also had the opportunity to complete shorter rotations, which allows me to work with different teams on a variety of projects, whilst continuously building on my knowledge and understanding of the real estate market. I am always encouraged by my line manager to participate in JLL training programmes, volunteering and charity initiatives.
What’s your favourite part of being an Apprentice?
My favourite part of being an apprentice is meeting and building rapport with people from different backgrounds and experiences. My workplace environment is really easy going, and I can have a conversation with a graduate surveyor one day, and with senior leadership on another; I get to hear great stories, experiences at work and advice that I can implement into my career.
How do you manage your time between work and education?
Coming from a Sixth Form background where free time was more available to focus on my work, I found the apprenticeship a new landscape to manage my time more effectively and efficiently. In the first few weeks, it was difficult, but with a plan and structure which I stick to, it became easier every day and has developed my responsibility with time. My line manager has always been supportive in offering me flexibility for study leave for a few days, but I have found I don’t need it.
I have learnt that revising 20-minute blocks has suited my studying style, and it allows me to completely focus on my work
When did you first hear about apprenticeships, and what experience did you gain before starting as an apprentice?
In Year 10, I had a meeting with my career’s advisor at school, where I mentioned that I enjoyed practical, meaningful work, as well as working with people. The advisor then introduced the idea of an apprenticeship to me, which I took great interest in, he suggested building my network and my portfolio with work experience and volunteering.
Thus, in the past 4 years, I have undertaken a variety of volunteering opportunities – I have raised over £20,000 for the fight against prostate cancer, school funding, led events for the elderly with dementia to take part in and taught primary school children the sciences.
I have also completed work experience during school holidays with Pathway CTM, Berkeley Group, AEW, Martin & Co and Cushman & Wakefield. On the weekends I worked as a sales consultant for Currys PC World.
What made you decide to do an apprenticeship rather than going to university?
An apprenticeship gives you on-the-job experience which a university course isn’t able to. I believe that the most important part of anyone’s CV is the work experience that you’ve completed, and the skills learnt whilst completing it. This will make you a much more valuable candidate for a job in comparison to graduates who may only have a couple of months of experience through internships.
An apprenticeship also allows you to have access to people who are at the top of their respected business lines. The ability to have a coffee with someone whose experience in the industry is equivalent to twice your lifetime is something you wouldn’t have the chance to do at university.
I did apply for university and was accepted to Queen Mary University to study business management, although I was put off it, knowing the numerous benefits of an apprenticeship.
The fact that you get paid to study as well as start your career at some of the most successful firms in the world isn’t an opportunity anyone should pass up.
What was your experience of the application process?
Generally, the application processes for the different companies was similar throughout: talking about yourself and why you want the job on an online application form, then attending interviews and assessment centres if your application is chosen. I must mention the importance of perseverance and resilience throughout the application process. There is the chance of rejection, although it’s natural for people to be unsuccessful during this process, don’t see it as rejection instead view it as a learning curve. Seeing it in this way will help you reflect both on what you did and didn’t do well, meaning that next time you will do better.
I strongly recommended being prepared for the interviews, you should gather your values and skills, and how you can back them up: with relevant experience. During the interviews, are always high-pressure situations, you must present yourself as easy going, and to strike a balance of being modest but confident. It’s important to view the interview as more like a conversation, as the interviewer is looking not only for your skills and work ethic but also who you are as a person and what makes you stand out in comparison to everyone else.
Once you complete your apprenticeship, not only are you ahead of the “rat race”, having years of experience under your belt but instead of being in any debt, you’ve been paid to study. The role isn’t just about doing a job; it’s a learning experience.
You can connect with Ali on LinkedIn here