A monthly exploration into the world of sustainability in the built environment with commentary and input from UCEM’s Vice Chancellor and academics.
A Case Study: From Equine Management to a Chartered Surveying apprenticeship – Laura Rafferty-Trow, Acquisition Manager at Spectrum Solicitors
Posted on: 26 May, 2017
Apprentice Chartered Surveyor, Laura Rafferty-Trow is currently working for Spectrum Solicitors as an Acquisition Manager. We spoke to her to find out why she chose to study with UCEM and how she is finding it so far.
I started my working career on a stud farm, having previously studied Equine Management. My boss at the time decided to set up her own legal business, Spectrum Solicitors and invited me to come on board with her and join the company. At first, I was working in an administrative role, dealing with telecoms roll out projects, which provided valuable experience for my future as a surveyor. After a few years of hard work expanding the business and taking on more responsibility, I started to think about gaining a qualification within project management and/or surveying. UCEM was one of the training providers that was the most organised and seemed the most efficient. Other providers were really struggling to get courses off the ground and couldn’t provide the information I needed to make a decision, so I opted to study with UCEM.
When it comes to studying alongside working, I’m not going to lie – finding the right balance can sometimes be hard. Learning to organise your time and making the extra commitment to studying for exams or essay deadlines is really important, and it also shows a great work ethic and dedication to your employer. In my day-to-day job I work with a lot of different types of software such as GIS systems and find it easy to pick up on new products, so using UCEM’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is really easy. What’s great is that the programme materials come in different formats, so I can choose between a presentation or video instead of a textbook chapter, if I want. Even though all of your required books are provided via the e-library, I like to do some extra reading at bedtime so I asked for Amazon vouchers for Christmas. The great thing about online learning is you can study however and whenever suits you best.
I think the best part about being an apprentice is the interaction between the academic knowledge and the real-world experience. I’m constantly improving my skills, which is great for both my employer and myself. I often find that the work I’m doing on my current module with UCEM is directly relevant to my day-to-day job, and key clients have even complimented me on my knowledge!
Now that I’m on an apprenticeship scheme, I feel that my parents are really proud of what I’m doing. Studying a programme that gives me a professional qualification at the end, especially one as well-regarded as MRICS, is a lot more worthwhile in their eyes than the Equine Management course that I previously studied. I still don’t think they really understand what I’m doing – my dad still asks me what a surveyor does – but they see that the programme is a route to a professionally recognised qualification, which they think is great.
I would tell anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship to go for it! Studying whilst in employment is hard, but really worthwhile. The experience you gain whilst working puts the academic knowledge into perspective, and the academic knowledge underpins what you do at work – it’s a win-win situation.