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Westminster student wins life changing Tokyo experience

Property and Construction 14 August 2013

University of Westminster Property student Sandra Nwachukwu is having the time of her life after winning a Sociable Surveyors Global Internship Scheme award.

Sandra’s prize was the chance to gain invaluable experience working with a major property firm for four weeks. The Sociable Surveyors Internship scheme is hotly competed for by property students and graduates from around the UK. There is just one place offered per internship - with a total of only eight global internships.

After submitting a video and undergoing a round of interviews, Sandra won a a four-week paid internship scheme with Savills, spending two weeks in their Tokyo office and two weeks in their London office, with return flights and hotel accommodation.

We caught up with Sandra during her amazing stay with Savills in Japan.

What was so appealing about this internship?

New York, London and Tokyo are considered the ‘Power Centres’ in the world. The University of Westminster has provided me with an opportunity to gain an in depth knowledge of the London and New York markets with a learning trip organised annually. When I came across the Sociable Surveyors Global Internship Scheme offering a placement in Tokyo with Savills, Japan, I knew it was a ‘not to be missed’ opportunity where I could complete the circle by gaining first-hand experience of the property market there.

What do you think you did to make yourself stand out with the judges?

I wanted a concept that would be remembered. My video, a ‘news presenter style’ format in a virtual TV studio with accompanying graphics, received a lot of positive feedback from Savills.

What was your reaction when you won against such stiff competition?

Gosh! I was stunned. I wanted to break into a Michael Jackson dance move where he spins and screams “shamone!” But the call from Savills came during my first day on an internship scheme at Bizspace with Lisa Risk [after being highly commended in the Women In Property South East Student Awards], therefore I had to behave. But needless to say, I was extremely happy!

What work are you able to do at Savills?

In the first week, I worked on a Quarterly Market Update Report, where I was required to analyse the market and produce a report on the second quarter of the year for a client. I also attended a consultancy meeting with investors from Singapore.

I helped compile information on major transactions that had occurred during the week, in all sectors of the property market. This weekly update report goes out to about 4,000 investors. I then went on a site visit to a major office development in Akasaka, to view an office space for a lease.

Additional information is on my blog for Savills.

What has been your most invaluable learning experience?

Getting the opportunity to attend a business dinner with Christian Mancini (CEO Savills Japan), various Heads of Departments and a major client. At dinner I was given an insight into property investment in Asia with particular emphasis on Tokyo, as well as advice on my professional career in property.

What was it like acclimatising to a different culture?

Tokyo is a mixture of old and new. It’s an international city yet retains large aspects of its culture and customs. I love the politeness, the people, the food (oh glorious food!), the fashion and everything about Japan.

How do you feel this will help your future career?

The knowledge I’ve gained, the contacts I’ve made and the advice I have been given will definitely ease access into the industry. Having gained an internship with Savills I will be invited back for their graduate assessment day.

My understanding of the investment market in Asia and investor attitude will aid my future career in commercial property investment.

What advice would you give to other students?

Make use of every opportunity offered by the University. Be on constant lookout for schemes and opportunities offered by companies and organisations in your industry and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. No goal is ever impossible with hard work and dedication.

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

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