I was known as Jordanne Wilson when I became Savills' first building surveying apprentice nearly seven years ago, with a clear path of professional development ahead of me.
This was an exciting prospect. But to my 17-year-old self, in the lower sixth form studying for my A levels, seven years felt like an intimidatingly long time before I could take my APC with RICS.
Now at 24, I can hardly believe this year has already reached November, let alone that it has been seven years since I started as an apprentice. In this time I have become a fully fledged building surveyor and bought a house, as well as getting married and having a child.
In the first two years of my apprenticeship, I studied a level 3 diploma in surveying with the University College of Estate Management by distance learning.
This course allowed me to work with my team at Savills in Birmingham four days a week gaining hands-on experience, before logging on to my college's online learning platform to pursue my course for the fifth day and complete my qualification.
In addition to my college coursework, I was required to pass the Associate RICS member (AssocRICS) assessment, which I did in November 2018.
The AssocRICS assessment is something of a precursor to the APC in many ways, though less well known. The paperwork is broadly similar in scope to the APC though does not require level 3 experience or an interview, being an entirely written assessment.
During the following five years – more or less the standard timescale for most part-time degree apprenticeships in surveying – I studied a part-time BSc (Hons) in building surveying with Birmingham City University.
This worked in a similar way to my diploma, only that instead of distance learning I attended lectures and seminars in person at the city centre campus.
I became Jordanne Dunn when I married in February 2020, and graduated with my degree in July 2023. Now my attention has turned to the APC, which I am aiming to sit in next year's spring and summer session.
Over this series of articles, I plan to share my journey by tracking my progress on the APC and share any advice or lessons I have learned with those following the same path.
© Jordanne Dunn
It would be fair to say that I have been anticipating my APC for a long time. Since I joined Savills, I have witnessed six cohorts of graduates journey along this pathway in various disciplines at our Birmingham office.
My directors, who have always been supportive of my development, encouraged me to attend our internal APC training sessions at an early stage. The result is that, although the APC has changed a couple of times since I first learned about it, I feel familiar with its mechanics and structure.
I was recently asked whether there were any myths I had heard about the process; I said that if I had ever heard any, they were likely to have been dispelled long ago.
I am, however, in no way complacent. If anything, my long-term exposure to training sessions and the APC process has only heightened my awareness of what is expected when becoming an RICS member.
I am enrolled on the APC 12-month structured training programme, as I have between five and ten years of experience.
This route requires me to complete the following:
In essence, it is the same as the two-year structured programme, with just slightly less recording of diary days and CPD required.
I now have around seven months before my final interview, and around four before documents are due to be submitted.
When I decided, with the support of my team, that I would be aiming for session one in 2024, my first task was to take stock of my current position. This included reviewing my experience, my paperwork and the resources available to me.
By measuring the experience I already had, I could more clearly identify any gaps I needed to address in the time remaining before submission.
I did so by reviewing my diary, workload and daybooks, as well as the daily APC log that I started when I returned from maternity leave last year.
Taking stock of the experience I have gained also allowed me to appraise different projects for my case study.
Once this was done, I could then see where I could start my paperwork – such as drafting my account of the mandatory competencies I had already achieved – and devise a strategy for completing what remained.
I am fortunate enough to have access to many resources, whether internally from the structured APC training and other support my employer provides, or externally from RICS, such as its candidate support provision, and RICS Matrics, as well as other bodies such as LionHeart. This will allow me to seek help from the right places where required.
In many ways, my AssocRICS assessment was an excellent primer for the APC. While the paperwork may have been lighter and there was no interview, it instilled in me good habits of record-keeping and taught me how to identify the competencies in my relevant experience.
It also gave me a practical tutorial in how to write a submission. These are all skills I will benefit from as I make my way through the APC.
'By measuring the experience I already have, I can more clearly identify any gaps I need to target'
I am sure there will be challenges in this process that I haven't anticipated, but balance is one difficulty I can foresee. After seven years of part-time study, the tenuous balance of work, life and training is not unknown to me – though the challenge does not lessen with familiarity.
I have developed organisational strategies that work for me over the years. These are mainly predicated on:
While I may lose sight of one or more of these from time to time, by returning to these tactics regularly I know I can maintain a balance, and manage any other challenges that may arise.
I look forward to sharing what progress I have made in my next article.