When I began my placement with Galbraith in July 2015 I had some idea of the various types of work an assistant land agent would undertake as well as a vague notion of the career path I would find myself choosing. However, as I countdown to graduating from SRUC I find myself reflecting on the vast collection of experiences I gained during my time at Galbraith which ultimately led me to gaining a promising graduate position and future career.
The placement allowed me to see many different areas of Scotland ranging from training days taking place on estates within the Cairngorms National Park to hiking up hills on the boundaries of Scotland and England to find water sources. I was involved in a wide variety of work including estate management, forestry, valuations and farm sales ranging from valuing large mixed farming and sporting estates to renewing smaller grazing leases on a few acres of land. My placement coincided with a large number of changes in the land agency industry including the introduction Basic Payment Scheme; changes to the land registry of Scotland and the new Land Reform Bill being finalised; each providing an array of diverse work.
My main base was the Edinburgh office, although the nature of the job meant I was out of the office visiting farms or estates and attending training days nearly every other day. Hence my placement flew by with no two days being the same! The first week saw me completing various inductions and training courses including the usual health & safety training but I also learnt how to use Galbraith's GIS (geographic information system) platform where layers of data are recorded onto a digital map of Scotland. By the end of the week I was helping set up Galbraith's trade stand at the Border Union Show.
Estate Management is a large part of a land agent's profession. Rent reviews and property inspections are carried out annually. These involve the renewal of lease which should be kept up-to-date and must be written correctly as otherwise it could lead to many legal issues in the future. During the management of various estates for Galbraith I learnt how to communicate with tenants, solving any problems arising on their property as well as negotiating with tenants with regards to rent reviews. I learnt many skills including professionalism and communication during this aspect of the job.
During the placement Galbraith had a number of agricultural properties on the market. I assisted with the sale of one farm in particular by taking prospective buyers around the farm cottages and answering any queries. In addition I researched a variety of issues arising from the sale of farms including the new Basic Payment Scheme and various local planning policies and what this means for prospective buyers. Many farm sales go to a closing date and I assisted with two of these which included liaising with lawyers who are acting on behalf of potential buyers and ensuring any issues are cleared up. Therefore I have been able to interact with other professionals including lawyers and foresters. This is all invaluable experience which I would not have gained otherwise.
I was also invited to attend the Rural department's bi-annual training day on a large traditional sporting and farming estate within Cairngorms National park in August. This training day allowed me to network with colleagues from other offices and learn about the diverse types of work, such as renewable energy projects, they are undertaking. I also met trainees who are currently on Galbraith's graduate scheme and are completing their RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) training.
After the placement I applied to Galbraith's graduate scheme and was offered an interview. The abundance of experience and skills I gained during the placement allowed me answer questions with more depth than I would have otherwise been able to. After the interview I was offered a graduate rural surveyor position and look forward to re-joining Galbraith later this year.
My work experience placement at Galbraith was useful and constructive and gave me a true insight into a career as a land agent - and ultimately set me up for a graduate job!