After receiving her degree at a graduation ceremony in Brisbane, Ellen Clark now turns her attention to a property development internship to build on her Griffith University studies and deliver crucial firsthand industry experience.
She does so, armed not only with a degree in real estate and property development, but with the 2014 Property Council of Australia Peter Trathen Memorial Scholarship.
“This scholarship will help me gain industry experience and build important networks,” said Ellen (21), a native of Nanango on Queensland’s South Burnett. “It’s a great platform for professional development which will give prospective employers another reason to consider me.”
Property Council of Australia (Qld) awards the scholarship each year to an undergraduate student who has achieved outstanding results in the field of real estate property development. The perpetual award, which remembers Gold Coast education advocate Peter Trathen, provides $5000 worth of Property Council membership, events attendance, professional development courses and industry publications.
“Its ongoing support of this initiative means students majoring in real estate and property development have this excellent opportunity to take important first steps into the industry.”
Ellen Clark’s initial focus will be on project management, a study subject that she embraced at university. “I like to plan, I’m organised. The project manager is the person who organises contractors, makes sure they’re on time and on budget, and the person who manages the inevitable setbacks that arise.”
Ellen is also enthusiastic about the part research plays in the industry. “I am interested in the initial research phase of development and hope to gain greater insights.
“This vital information can be passed on to town planners, architects and developers to ensure housing reaches its optimum use in an environmentally sustainable, economical and liveable way.”
Her passion for the sector was fostered by her owner-builder parents who moved from the Gold Coast to Nanango to develop and sell a number of residences before settling on the seven-acre block where Ellen grew up. “Dad was a painting contractor and I was always asking my parents questions about our house. I also had a green thumb and learned to appreciate the importance and value of gardening.”
When she left the family home to go to university in Brisbane, it was initially to study law at Griffith University. “But after six months I realised I was not passionate about it. I knew I could do a law degree but when I thought about going to practise law for the rest of my life, I realised it was not for me.”
She changed direction and enrolled to do a business degree, restarting her university studies as a mid-year entrant. “Once I made the decision I felt so much better about the direction I was heading in. I got a great taste of some of the other majors on offer through the business degree, but my interest was sparked by the real estate and property development major. It reaffirmed what I wanted to do. I played to my strengths.”
Ellen had no regrets about her six months studying law, as she was conferred with her degree last week. “Any amount of time learning is not wasted time.”
She also values her decision to work part-time at Bunnings to support life at university. Although her commitment to this job prevented her from accessing unpaid internships while studying, she gained some valuable development knowledge from her exchanges with tradies and builders on the shop floor. Her mix of studies, experience and networking opportunities have her well-placed to move forward with confidence.