Student Perspective: Internship at CBRE

Read story by Lauren Wilkinson on her internship experience.

Introduce yourself - Which course are you on? What year?

Hiya, I’m Lauren and I am a third-year UDPM, Urban Design, Planning and Management student. I enjoy all three aspects of the course, but for me, planning is my passion. I came back from a brilliant six months studying in Melbourne which cemented my love of policy, the power of planning and the applicability of the Garden City principles.

Which company have you recently been involved with as either intern/job/work-experience? And for how long? Please tell us about the application process.

I had applied to the CBRE formal internship program, making a video application in April. It was a fun application process, and I liked that I could get creative with it. I started the internship in July, with the aim of getting some experience in a major consultancy before I embarked on a career in public sector planning. After a few days on the job, I was beginning to question my previous plans for the future. This was a really positive experience for me.

Has your work-experience enhanced or changed your view of where your career aspirations lie?

I enjoyed working in a large team, focusing in both central and greater London as well as a few projects outside of London. Immediately, I was being exposed to large projects and understanding the planning process from the consultant’s side. A planning consultancy acts as a kind of bridge between the client and the council, it manages the client’s needs and expectations and talks to the council, researches planning history and policies to understand the council’s position on certain development types. They are highly skilled in understanding the market and of local councils. It was incredibly exciting to see how this all fits together, and how my research tasks and reports slotted into the bigger picture.

I loved working with other interns on the final presentation too because it was a great way to understand the inner workings of the company and talk to different departments. The final presentation was a great way to finish the internship and celebrate everything we had learnt and how our confidence had grown. I ended up staying for three more weeks afterwards, and it has been so rewarding seeing how the projects I have helped on have progressed and new instructions that have come forward. I love the pace and the teamwork aspects of working in a consultancy and it’s a great way to gain experience and understanding of the market and the built environment, as a whole. I hope it will be a great foundation for my career. I am hoping to apply for the graduate scheme next, and then see where it takes me.

Eventually, I would like to work in policy and also spend some time working abroad.

"Over the past seven weeks, I have become much more comfortable asking for help, and my confidence has really grown"

How much has your current university education prepared you for your recent work/internship? Have any modules stood out as preparation for professional work?

The modules at UCL have given a great grounding in good planning practice and a love of cities and their dynamics, which has been a huge motivation for me in planning. One thing, my experience has taught me at CBRE are my strengths and weaknesses. This is so useful going into my third year, and future interviews because I know what I need to work on. Over the past seven weeks, I have become much more comfortable asking for help, and my confidence has really grown, particularly in the last presentation. I have learnt so much and cannot thank CBRE enough for all their support and the opportunity. The experience has really been a career-enlightening experience and it has really made me refocus on what I want out of my planning career, what I want to achieve and where I want to go from here.

Connect with Jessica on LinkedIn and ask her any other questions you have in mind.