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I am a new member of the Countryside team, just a few weeks in to my two-year graduate programme, but it’s been a great start so far. I applied for the graduate programme when I was still at university, and because of the obvious merits and credentials of Countryside’s scheme, I put together a really strong application for it.

My Countryside Graduate Scheme - by Matthew Aihie

My motivation has always been to undertake a graduate scheme that would support my RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) aspirations and enrolling in the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence). This goes hand-in-hand with the rotations format of the graduate scheme on offer at Countryside.

Prior to learning about Countryside’s graduate programme, I was of the mind-set that joining a housebuilder could limit my exposure in the industry to just residential development. However, as soon as I discovered the way the programme is structured and that there is flexibility to tailor it to my individual interests, I realised this was not the case, and wasted no time in applying.

The first stage of the application required us to answer several questions about ourselves, our experience and the Countryside brand values. The assessment day that followed was very relaxed, and enjoyable. We were able to speak with past and current graduates who were happy to speak openly and honestly about their time so far at Countryside. Following the assessment day, I was invited for an interview which was the more formal part of the process.

It became apparent, even in my first few days here, that there is a strong network of support on offer - from the HR team, my own graduate buddy, my departmental line manager and my own mentor for the whole programme, which is a really reassuring. The scheme is also growing in size, so having other graduates coming through and developing alongside me is really helpful. Furthermore, a number of the directors in my region have come through the scheme, which is a testament in itself to the programme.

My day starts with an early commute into the office, going in the opposite direction to most people who are travelling into London for work - so it’s quite a peaceful start to the day. I am currently working on Phase 2B for Horsted Park. For this project, I have been tasked with cross-checking consultant’s drawings, making sure all the details are replicated across the drawings and ensuring they have been drawn to the relevant Countryside specifications. This process is really important to get right and to highlight any issues before work begins on site, to avoid any delays and/or incorrectly fitted homes. This has been a really interesting start to my career, and has given me a totally new perspective on how buildings are put together. It has also made me think about the considerations architects and the various consultants take to ensure a home is comfortable with the experience for the end buyer always in mind.

The people at Countryside have really made it easy for me to settle in. There is a clear and flat management structure, making it very easy to seek advice from practically anyone in the company. The office is open plan, without any private offices, which helps to encourage communication between the departments. We also have a very busy social calendar from charity fundraisers to networking events, which has made it really easy to meet people from outside my department. I have been able to enjoy a good work/life balance and there are plenty of opportunities - and lots on encouragement and support - to get involved and start your own initiatives. The Annual Graduate Dinner is also not far away, which will be a great opportunity to see how my fellow graduates are getting on in the other offices and get the lowdown on the other rotations ahead. As a graduate on the rotation program, we get to experience a lot of different parts of the development cycle, which is fantastic opportunity to work with different people in the business and develop lots of new skills and knowledge.

My first few weeks have been a whirlwind, I haven’t really stopped! I’ve been to networking events and a celebratory office meal for a successful end to the financial year. I am definitely following the ‘work hard, play hard’ mantra! I have loved joining the Sevenoaks office, it’s a really sociable group and good size to get to know people personally.

In two years’ time, I will have experienced almost all the major steps that go into obtaining and transforming a piece of land into a brand-new community, which is a lot of exposure and such a valuable start to my career. As a new graduate with ambitions to have a career in development, having a deeper knowledge of each of these elements will prove to be extremely important in years to come.

Matthew Aihie,

Our graduate scheme first began in 1980 with CEO of Partnership South, Graham Cherry, being our first graduate. Applications for our 2018 scheme open on 1st November 2017 and close on 1st January 2018. The scheme typically begins in October with 12 – 15 graduates, but we are happy to bring graduates in earlier to gain some experience if necessary. Please see our Graduate Programme page for more information.

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About this blog

Here you’ll find property related blog articles from the team at Countryside as well as independent experts. Expect regular tips and advice on topics such as buying a new home, interior and landscape design, setting up home, mortgages and finance, plus articles on architecture, the property market, regeneration and more.

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