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Laying the foundation for South Africa’s young property professionals

18 March 2024

“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” – Nelson Mandela

It was this very sentiment that inspired us, here at Equites, to conceptualise a platform for young people studying towards a qualification in the built environment or students with an interest therein to gain insight into the field and launch into the workplace better equipped.

Having had such an opportunity in her early years as an accountant, Nasreen Mukuddem, Head of Finance, took the lead—together with Junior Development Managers, Jade McFarlane and Tristan Fernandes—and brought the Equites Work Experience Programme into fruition last year. Although the programme is relatively new, it’s already showing signs of tremendous success.

In a recent interview, shared below, Nasreen, Jade and Tristan talked about the Work Experience Programme, expanding on where it all started, what it entails, who it’s aimed at and its future potential.

 

To begin with, what exactly is the Equites Work Experience Programme?

It’s a week-long programme that is aimed at young South African students gearing up for a profession in the built environment domain. It gives participants a practical, task-orientated “glimpse” into what working at a real estate investment trust (REIT), like Equites, entails and how the various departments operate. 

At the start of the week, we take time to understand which professional trajectories students hope to pursue and engage with them on the different career options within the broader property domain. This gives students insight into the possibilities which oftentimes, they don’t even realise exist.

We then “get down to business” by briefing the group on a development project that they will need to complete and present to Equites staff. With this task at hand, the students are given the chance to engage with the development department and learn about Equites’ baseline specification, including a special focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitment.

At the end of the week, each student is asked to present their completed project to the whole organisation, which collectively acts as the client, while each student acts as a landlord and/or developer. What’s great about this project is that students can apply what they learn throughout the week and are given the flexibility to use their creativity and own ideas. 

The presentation itself is a really engaging exercise as each department asks questions according to its own domain, which helps students to look at their “development” through different lenses and understand all the working components required for a successful outcome.

 

What does a typical day look like for participants?

Each day’s activities run over the duration of a full business day, from 08:00 to 17:00, and include a number of one to one-and-a-half hour sessions, with refreshment and lunch breaks in between, and wrap up with an hour to two-hour slot for students to work on their development projects. 

During the sessions, students are given the platform to engage with Equites’ business representatives, including senior personnel and our CEO, Andrea Taverna-Turisan. We’re really proud of our team’s enthusiasm and involvement, giving students the chance to learn from the best in the business, as we believe this sets our Work Experience Programme apart from others. We aren’t aware of any similar programmes that give students a seat at the table with the company’s CEO.

In addition, we allocate a day to take students out for site visits to give them real-life exposure and help them visualise the industry in operation. In Johannesburg, we tend to take participants out to active development sites, whereas in Cape Town, we take students to fully operating properties with tenants in place.

 

When and where are the programmes held?

At this point, we host the programme twice a year—once in Johannesburg and once in Cape Town. We work around tertiary institutions’ holiday times and, because our team works closely with the students during these programmes, we factor their availability into our planning. We have, however, already hosted three successful events, including our most recent one in February this year, in Johannesburg. Our next Work Experience Programme is scheduled for July 2024 and will take place in Cape Town. Applications are now open!

 

Who can apply to take part in the Equites Work Experience programme?

All students based in South Africa, regardless of their field of study, may apply, but we do lean more towards giving those with a focus on the built environment—including property or construction studies, among others—first choice simply because we find these students see the most benefit from the programme.

We only select eight participants (with the exception of one programme in Cape Town that included 12 students) to ensure that each person gains maximum exposure and is able to engage with Equites staff members as much as possible during the course of the week.

 

How can those who are interested in participating in future Work Experience Programmes apply?

We encourage students to keep an eye on our LinkedIn, X, Facebook and Instagram pages as we post about our upcoming programmes across our social platforms.

Applications can be done on our website via the Careers page.

 

What do you aim to achieve via the programme?

One of our ambitions is to show students the various opportunities that are available to them in the industry because so many young people formulate an idea of what they’d like to do as a professional, but are let down when they realise that the reality of the job differs drastically from what they had in mind. We’d really like to be able to empower students by giving them this insight and a way to step into their careers with more certainty. 

We also aim to give participants access to a reliable network so that they’re able to reach out to and connect with contacts as they enter the work world and beyond. Participants who complete the programme are, of course, able to note this on their CVs, which we believe is a positive achievement in the eyes of prospective employers. We take this stance ourselves and view the programme as an opportunity for us to identify possible next-generation Equites employees. In fact, we already have one programme “graduate” working for us as an intern, and we’re excited to see what potential other candidates hold as prospective interns or employees.

 

What have past participants had to say about their experience of the programme?

So far, we’ve had incredibly positive feedback. Here’s what a few of our past participants have shared:

“During my final year of studies, at a time when I was trying to set some career goals and find opportunities that align with those goals, I found out about the Equites Work Experience Programme through a LinkedIn post. Participating in the programme was a transformative experience that opened my eyes to the vast opportunities, roles and career paths that I was previously not aware of.

Throughout the week, the Equites team generously shared insights into their work, allowing us to learn from their experiences. Immersing ourselves in their operations, we had the opportunity to visit some of the Equites’ properties across Cape Town, gaining first-hand insights into the intricacies of the city’s industrial property market. I was particularly impressed by the company’s commitment to their ESG goals, and the application of innovative technologies to realise them.

One highlight of the week was the challenge to build a model warehouse based on the Equites’ baseline specification. This not only solidified the knowledge we gained over the week, but also allowed us to collaborate and get hands-on experience of the development and project management processes.

Overall the week exposed me to a dynamic real-life work environment, an opportunity to network with both my peers and experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds, and gave me a mindset to not limit my career aspirations to my study field.”

-Lesiba Sakeng (Equites Intern)

 

“I am profoundly grateful for the transformative opportunity I had to be part of the Equites Work Experience Programme. The week with the Equites Team was not only eye-opening but also incredibly enriching. Being exposed to the largest logistic REIT listed on the JSE, I developed a deep appreciation for the intricacies of the industry. This experience has not only solidified my passion for the industry but has also equipped me with a unique perspective and expertise that have directly influenced my career path. 

I am confident that the insights and growth I've gained will guide me as a student and emerging young professional. Thank you very much to the Equites team for cultivating such a beautiful programme, especially to Nasreen Mukuddem, Tristan Fernandes and Jade McFarlane for leading it. The daily motivation, chats, answers and knowledge everyone at Equites shared was absolutely indispensable. To my colleagues, I am grateful to have met such driven women who make me excited for the future of the built environment space.”

-Libonge Nkoana

 

“I recently completed my vacation work at Equites Property Fund Limited, an experience that was both enlightening and profoundly educational. I had the chance to explore various aspects of the property industry and experience life on a construction site. The most significant takeaway for me this week has been to make everything my problem because it will eventually become my problem.

I am immensely thankful to the recruitment team for offering me this priceless opportunity to work closely with experienced property professionals, ranging from directors and senior associates to development managers, operations managers, facilities managers, asset managers, project managers, the billing team as well as broadening my understanding of ESG principles.

It was an enriching week filled with valuable insights and newfound understanding. I am grateful to the Equities team for their warm hospitality, kindness and willingness to address any questions I had throughout the programme.”

-Precious Ramahuma

 

“The Equites Work Experience Programme is a fantastic week full of valuable knowledge, teamwork and insight into how a company of this size functions on a day-to-day basis. I feel as though this experience can help students make a more informed decision of which department/ aspect of a REIT appeals to them the most. Grateful to have been a part of this programme!”

-Dean Kramer 

 

“The most valuable part of the experience was definitely when we [got] to learn about each profession at Equites from people who were actually in those professions. It gave me a clear understanding of each career. 

Another aspect I enjoyed was when we got the opportunity to visit the warehouses! From wearing the safety gear (which made me feel so present and in tune with the moment) to actually stepping foot into the warehouse. That also gave me a better idea of how my team and I could construct our model of the Equites warehouse spec.” 

-Liyema Rungqu

 

Interested in the Equites Work Experience Programme?

Check out our LinkedInXFacebook and Instagram pages for more info and apply here

 

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