My journey to becoming a Surveyor – Susan McGinnell

14 Apr 2021

My journey to becoming a Surveyor – Susan McGinnell

Unlike many of my colleagues, no Property course was listed on my CAO. Property as a career pathway in 2010, definitely wasn’t top of the agenda for most guidance counsellors and the industry wasn’t one that any of my classmates were considering. To be honest, doing my CAO at sixteen didn’t lead me to have any serious consideration for what I actually wanted to do post-secondary, other than the fact I wanted to go to college. As a result, I ended up getting offered a place in Social Science degree in UCD. My parents, wanting to avoid having another year of leaving cert fun in the house, encouraged me to do the first year rather than repeating which would give me time to see if it was for me or if I should look elsewhere (admittedly, I was very fortunate to have supportive parents who could afford to give me this opportunity). In my first year in UCD I learned a lot and made great friends but mostly learned that Social Science wasn’t for me. Still not really knowing what I wanted to do I decided to focus on something I loved and applied for a course in Ancient and Medieval History in Trinity. Having been diagnosed with dyslexia in sixth year and finally realising I couldn’t bank on languages for CAO points, I took an eight subject Classics (because someone told me it was like History which I liked). This class on Friday evenings from 6-8pm quickly became my favourite part of the leaving cert slog.

Moving to Trinity and doing the strange history course was probably the best decision I ever made. I made incredible friends and found something I loved. In 2011, everyone in was pretty set on the idea that you would have to do a masters anyway after college so I figured I may as well do something I loved for the four years before. Coming into the final few years of the course, we all started thinking of what we would do after, this lead to some hilarious suggestions from my dad, who even went as far as to suggest I should join the army (my inability at that point to get up before 8am didn’t seem to bother him). As part of my course, we did a module on the development of Rome and town planning sparked as a potential interest.

My Dad became a very important part of my journey to property. He is a retired structural engineer and worked in Dublin City Council for the majority of his career. He absolutely loved the council and the freedom this role gave him, part of his day spent on inspections and part in the office. One of my strongest childhood memories is him walking us around town telling us about all the buildings he had worked on and give us stories about their construction.

Cut to a few months later and my parents went on a tour group trip and one of the other people on it was a town planner, working in a county council. He very kindly offered a lot of information on the career and routes. The more I researched this career the more I thought it was for me, however I was very keen to do the course in Queens University Belfast which offers routes to Chartership with both the RICS and RTPI and focuses on both career paths. Within the first few months of this course, I had interviewed with Cushman & Wakefield (then DTZ Sherry FitzGerald) and had an offer to start the following October.  Having already brought my parents on a tour of colleges of Ireland, they were very suspicious/delighted with this. Because of my unusual route to property I also did the two year diploma in Property Studies in DIT to gain a PSRA licence and passed my APC in Oct 2020. So I’m fairly confident at this stage I will be sticking with Property!

From my story hopefully its shown that Property is an equal opportunities career path, within any firm there are lots of people with stories like mine who haven’t gone straight through the DIT/ UU property route. While it’s a lot more straightforward, I do believe that the broader range of skills I learned has helped a lot in the early part of my career. Also if anyone reading this has someone filling in CAO who isn’t sure what they want to do, hopefully this is proof that while it seems like the biggest decision you will ever make, it by no means limits what you can do after.

I have definitely found my home in property and love the opportunity it affords. Property allows you to meet lots of people and be involved in a wide range of projects. As I am sure my colleagues will also allude to, everyday is different and provides a new challenge.  

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