Besides offering valuable networking opportunities, the Department of Construction Economics and Management's (CEM) first-ever Industry Open Day was a hit with companies who were able to meet and recruit property studies students on campus.
Twenty seven companies (including Investec, Absa, Nedbank Corporate and the Department of Public Works, as well as many property specialists) set up stands in the Leslie Social Science building on August 13, where approximately 260 property studies students, ranging from first year to honours level, attended the day.
The event also allowed companies to find out more about the department's popular BSc Property Studies degree.
With their graduates snapped up by industry when they qualify, the department felt the need to give repeat employers the opportunity to target future graduates at an earlier stage (at second- or third-year level).
"It was our intention to have this as a once-off event," explained CEM senior lecturer Kathy Evans. "But the response from industry participants and students has been so positive, we may have to consider doing this."
Third-year student Nazneem Saloojee said she found the event useful and informative, with many companies prepared to offer students vacation work.
"I didn't realise there was such a wide range of companies interested in employing property studies students," she said.
According to John van der Spuy, director of Steer Property Services, the day also allowed his company to contribute to the students' education.
"We found the opportunity to be a most stimulating one. We were also most impressed by the overall level of the students' participation and their eagerness to learn about our various services."
CEM started their property degree in 1999 with only 12 students. Their student intake has grown to 113 in 2005.
Evans noted: "Not only have we experienced tremendous growth in numbers but the quality of our students has also improved. We have had to increase our entrance requirements in order to control this growth. As one of our graduates addressing this year's first-year class at orientation said: 'The secret about property studies is out'."
Evans says the growth and interest can be attributed to a number of factors, including the degree's local and international accreditation, and the fact that both commercial and residential property have performed outstandingly as an asset class.
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