The Non-Cognitive Graduate Route Guide

November 20, 2023

By Hannah Dowling


My route into property was slightly different from the norm, and when I first looked into joining the industry, I wasn’t even sure it would be possible. It seemed like everywhere required a property degree background, and I was coming out of a Geography and Sociology degree from Trinity College Dublin. However, I soon learned that CBRE’s Dublin office was not only open to graduates from different educational backgrounds, they had a specific ‘Non-Property Graduate Programme’ for such. Through this route, CBRE has supported me as I carry out a part time Master’s in Real Estate while working on their 3 year Graduate Rotation Programme. For anyone daunted by the prospect of continuing their education alongside full-time work I come with good news that it is not only manageable, but the two can complement one another greatly! Throughout my two years at CBRE, I have noticed how my part-time learning has helped directly with day-to-day tasks, and similarly, I have been able to bring areas and sectors of interest in my work life into my college essays and assignments.

Introduction to Real Estate

My first year was spent working with CBRE’s Property Management team. I found this to be the perfect introduction to the real estate world. The Property Management team manage a diverse range of assets across office, industrial, retail and healthcare sectors. Working under various property managers allowed me to experience a flavour of each. There was never a dull moment with my day-to-day tasks including managing landlord and tenant relationships, carrying out regular buildings inspections, lease management and coordinating with contractors and service providers for repairs and maintenance of assets managed. I found the year with the Property Management Department gave me an excellent grounding in landlord and tenant relations. Property management can also often present unexpected challenges, such as handling emergencies and addressing tenant issues. As a property management graduate you will learn to think on your feet to provide effective solutions for all parties; problem solving was a key aspect of day-to-day life working in Property Management.

Rotating into the World of Healthcare

My second year of the Graduate Programme was spent with CBRE’s Healthcare department which comprises of two teams – Brokerage and Valuations & Advisory. I was lucky enough to join the department at an incredibly exciting and busy period as they were providing buyside advice to a large US Infrastructure Fund on their ultimately successful acquisition of the Valley Healthcare primary care centre portfolio (20 operational assets with further assets under development). After this busy start, the work continued across assets including primary care centres, nursing homes, pharmacies, development sites, senior living and residential care facilities. The sector was not without its challenges during my time with the Healthcare team. From an operational standpoint, Irish nursing homes in particular endured a difficult year in 2022 with static revenues, alongside increasing energy and staff costs, which combined to put considerable pressure on smaller nursing homes. However, despite these operational challenges, the defensive characteristics of the sector continued to prove attractive to investors, particularly for continental European REITs and funds.

A particular highlight during my year in Healthcare was the encouragement from my managers to lead the production and eventual publication of two research publications, the first on The Irish Nursing Home Market and the second on The Market for Senior Living in Ireland. Research has always been something I have thoroughly enjoyed and I appreciated working under a team that trusted me to explore this area further. I learned a great deal during my time with Healthcare. Working at different times with both the Brokerage and Valuations & Advisory teams allowed me to develop my skills across the valuation of trading and investment assets, valuation inspections and measurement, report writing, the sales process of sites and operational assets, providing buyside advice and carrying out bespoke consultancy work for clients.

A New Sector and APC Planning

I am now on my third and final rotation with CBRE’s Hotel Valuations & Advisory team with the goal of submitting for my APC in Summer 2024. I am excited to learn about a new property sector and hope to bring with me the foundations I have built up in my first two years of the Rotation Programme. As I think back now to when I started with CBRE in August 2021, I really had no idea where to begin. The Graduate Programme has enabled me to experience so much in just over two years across Property Management, Brokerage, Valuations, Consultancy and Research. Finally, and most importantly, my sincere thanks must also be expressed to my line managers across all rotations who have supported and accommodated my university classes and exams with nothing but encouragement. I believe CBRE’s Graduate Programme has provided me with a fantastic foundation for the beginning of, what I hope, to be a long career in the world of real estate!