A Graduate's Guide to Retail
October 23, 2023
This past year, I took my first step into the commercial property market, and what an exciting start to my career it has been!
I joined CBRE as part of the graduate scheme following the completion of my bachelor’s degree in Property Economics from TU Dublin in September 2022. I found the prospect of taking the leap from the familiar environment of school and study into the professional world to be quite daunting. However, despite the nerves and apprehension, I was eager to apply myself, learn as much as I can and start my career on a positive note.
I, along with several other graduates, began our careers with an in-depth introduction week, which gave us the opportunity to bond, learn about life at our new company, and ease ourselves into the ins and outs of the property market.
I was thrilled to find out that my first rotation was in retail. I have strong family links to this sector and have grown up surrounded by the hustle and bustle nature of this market, seeing at first-hand what retailers are looking for when it comes to enhancing their businesses. Starting out on this team, where I already had experience and a basic understanding of how retail works, provided me with a great platform to kick start my career.
Getting to Grips with the Retail Market:
It soon became apparent that the faint of heart may not be best suited to the rigours of the retail market. It is a constantly shifting sector that plays a crucial role in our economy, society, and environment. My entry to the market came at a particularly interesting time as Ireland had just returned to “normal life” following the Covid-19 pandemic, where economic uncertainty and market scepticism were finally on the decrease.
My daily responsibilities and tasks varied based on a level of priority and urgency. Circumstances would often require a high degree of flexibility to ensure our team could react to the everchanging nature of retail with little notice. For example, the announcement of Argos’ plan to leave the Irish market forced agents to reorient themselves to avail of the massive opportunity this presented, where a wide range of properties located in key areas would go to market imminently.
Experience & Learning:
This past year, I primarily worked on the leasing and letting of properties, some of which were high street stores located on Grafton St, Henry St, others were units in shopping centres and retail parks both in Dublin and across the country. I gained invaluable experience managing client relationships as well as guiding both landlords and tenants through the letting process, including marketing and negotiation periods, up to the completion of the deal.
Working within a reasonably small team ensured that there was no such thing as a quiet workday, which ultimately was beneficial as I had the opportunity to work on a diverse range of tasks, all of which involved an element of collaboration with your own team as well as the wider CBRE network, which is an increasingly important part of working in property.
In addition to working in the retail team, I volunteered with CBRE’s community partner Robert Emmet Community Development Project, where once a week volunteers would lend a hand at their Afterschool club. Based in Dublin’s Southwest Inner City, it was great experience and chance to give back to the local community and meet new people.
There are several things that I would say are essential elements to being an effective property surveyor. Good communication is paramount. You need keen attention to detail, and excellent interpersonal skills will go a long way in helping you navigate the work environment as well as the demands of your clients. Having strong negotiation skills will be of vital importance when it comes to your daily interactions with clients, and you will need to be confident both in your ability to remain calm under pressure and in your own judgement to make the right decisions.
If I were to try and summarise my time in retail, I would say it was interesting, challenging and at times, demanding. However, with every challenge comes experience and ultimately, I enjoyed my time working in a dynamic environment that tested me. It certainly left me better equipped to deal with challenges going forward and provided me with ample opportunity to grow and enhance my skillset as an agent and surveyor. If you are a person that thrives under pressure, enjoys responsibility, and connecting with others, then the retail sector is absolutely the place for you.
I wish to express my sincere thanks to the entire retail team for their advice, guidance, and support through my rotation. I am grateful to now be working with the CBRE valuations team for my second rotation and I look forward to seeing what the future holds!