Photography: Gavin Forster
Louise Atkin is 18 and from Newcastle, UK. In September she joined national housebuilder Bellway Homes as a trainee quantity surveyor and, a few weeks later, started her chartered surveyor degree apprenticeship at Northumbria University. During her five-year course, Louise will spend 80% of her time in her work placement and 20% studying.
You are just a few months into your new job and course. How are you finding them?
Really good so far. Being a quantity surveyor will be a demanding job but it’s a really good one. My course has been great so far too, although it’s a weird situation at the moment. I’ve only had one day at university. I had two seminars and then we were told to study from home for the next three weeks because of COVID-19. I did meet everyone in my group, but we haven’t been able to get to know each other yet. We have five years though – I’m sure after that we’ll all be best friends!
What made you go into the property industry?
Two years ago, I was a typical 16-year-old with no idea what I wanted to do. I had family who worked in the property industry and I said, ‘well, I don’t want to do that’. But two years ago I did work experience at Persimmon Homes in the QS department and I loved it. Last year I did the same in the office I’m in now at Bellway Homes. It gave me a really good idea of what it was going to be like, and I got to know everyone.
Why did you decide to train as a quantity surveyor?
I like the mathematical side of quantity surveying; I took maths for A level. I think that’s the main thing that drew me in. I’m also a person who likes to get the most for my money, so it fitted me quite well. I also liked the idea of not just being in an office, but being outdoors, too. I thought I hadn't found something that I enjoyed so much, so it must be for me.
“I like the mathematical side of quantity surveying. I’m also a person who likes to get the most for my money, so it fitted me quite well”
Why did you choose to do a chartered surveyor degree apprenticeship?
I really didn’t want to do a full-time university course. I didn’t want the debts and I didn’t want to go to university and then have to look for a job without any experience. Having the apprenticeship makes it such a bonus. When I finish I’ll have five years’ experience plus a degree.
What have your first impressions of the property industry been?
Even though there are lots of specialist roles in property, all of them have to work together. You can’t work on your own. It’s also a complicated industry. You can’t learn everything overnight – there’s quite a learning curve.
What are your ambitions?
Five years is a long time, although I know it will go quickly. I want to try and progress my skills and move into senior roles. We have a female managing director at Bellway Homes so it shows that women can be in senior positions and, although quantity surveying is quite male-dominated, it will be good to go in and show people that I can do that role.
What do you think are the challenges facing the property industry?
Brexit and COVID-19. At the moment we can’t produce as many homes despite there being a high demand, so it’s difficult.