Sarah’s AssocRICS journey during a pandemic! - e.surv Surveyors

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Sarah’s AssocRICS journey (during a pandemic!)

Over the past year, we’ve been documenting the progress of our resident Surveyor-in-training, Sarah Shanks-Pell (#SarahSurveyor). We’ve heard about what she’s enjoyed, the challenges she’s faced and the properties she’s visited. However, you may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet recently …

Since the start of lockdown, Sarah has been on furlough leave. But, while on furlough, she used the time to continue her studies independently and made her final submission to the RICS in July.

We’re delighted to announce that Sarah, along with all the other Trainee surveyors in her group, is now a qualified AssocRICS Surveyor!

What better time to catch up with Sarah to find out, first-hand, how she managed to achieve this during the pandemic and what her return to work has been like.

Firstly, congratulations on achieving your AssocRICS! This is a massive achievement – especially given the extraordinary year we’ve had.

Thank you! I’m over the moon! I think I’m still digesting it.

How did you find out?

I’d just got home from my inspections and my email alert went off on my phone. I glanced over and saw those magical words light up on the preview screen … “Congratulations”. I was somewhat choked up! 

I called my husband instantly to tell him before chatting to my Area Manager, Mentor and one of the Technical Trainers to let them know I’d passed. 

It was great catching up with the other Trainees too. We were all sending each other messages of congratulations – such a fantastic feeling, all that positivity!  

How did you sustain your learning while on furlough? 

It was difficult, but I had to be disciplined. I worked my way back through all the learning materials that were provided to us at the start of each module. I tried to spend at least a couple of hours on it each day to keep my learning going.

It must have been difficult to stay focused.

Yes, it was hard – particularly with our trainers also on furlough leave. I could see the July submission window rapidly approaching but there didn’t seem to be an end to the Pandemic. 

However, I was able to stay in touch with my Mentor, James, who was really helpful. There were a few times when I picked his brains about things I didn’t fully understand or needed a refresher on.

Did you always know you would be able to submit in July? Or, did you think you would have to delay?

My Area Manager contacted me in June to ask if I still wanted to submit, even though I was on furlough. 

Like my fellow Trainees, I’d put my heart and soul into learning as much as I possibly could (prior to, and during, furlough). So, after discussing it with my husband, I decided to go for it. 

I then set about agreeing a plan with my Area Manager outlining how I would achieve it and I proceeded to work on finalising my competencies. I really did work my socks off!

So, when did you submit?

I finally clicked “submit” a couple of days before the RICS submission window ended. 

I was so relieved (and exhausted!). I’d lived and breathed my AssocRICS submission for weeks. We certainly celebrated that evening.

Did you have time for anything else while you were on furlough?

e.surv kept in touch with us all by sending us lots of internal updates and we were lucky enough to have a weekly Virtual Pub Quiz with our line manager. It was great as it helped to ensure we still felt part of a team and we all got to know each other better as a result! 

Like many other people, I also baked a lot, ate a lot and perhaps drank more than I should have done. I also exercised a lot, grew vegetables, and helped my husband wrestle our front garden into a new format – something we’ve been meaning to do for a while.

I actually enjoyed the seclusion though, I’m happy with my own company and I’m really thankful for the extra time I had to spend with my immediate family.

So, are you now back at work?

Yes, I am. It wasn’t possible to return to physical inspections with my Mentor, to begin with, so I joined the Booking Team to help clear the backlog of physical inspections that had built up during lockdown. 

This was a really useful experience as it helped me to learn more about the end-to-end process and understand the various challenges the Booking Team face.

The Booking Team Leaders were all very helpful and, whilst I did enjoy it, I must admit I was itching to get back out on the road. 

I’m pleased to say that I’m now back to surveying and I’ve been out with some new Mentors which has been great. 

Now you’re a qualified AssocRICS surveyor, can you now inspect properties alone?

Not quite, but I’m nearly there! We’re now receiving intensive training from our Learning and Development Team via Microsoft Teams which is helping us to get up to speed. We’re also busy working towards our internal competency interviews which I’ll need to pass before I can go out “on the ladders” on my own.

It’s been great to “see” everyone back at work, and chat to our Trainers and other Trainees. We’ve been sharing building pathology knowledge, pictures of properties we’ve inspected and generally working together. Things are starting to feel a little more “normal”!