'If I can do it, so can you': an APC journey

Roy Albert Quote (1) (cropped)
24-06-2020

It was one of the proudest days of my life to receive a congratulatory email in May 2020 confirming I was now a chartered surveyor - but getting there was definitely not without its hurdles.

My name is Roy Albert and I come from a very small Caribbean island called Dominica - population around 76,000 and an area of 750km² (yes, I have worked out that the population could fit into Old Trafford football stadium!) Coming from such a small island makes me even prouder to call myself a Member of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The journey to getting chartered is a challenging one for most of us. For me, it included juggling work, study, my family and a brush with serious illness. Then along came Covid-19 which meant no chance of face-to-face mocks, and the prospect of an online final assessment.

I share this to show other people if I can do it, so can you - and what helped me along my way.

"It would be a long road"

I moved to the UK in 2002, at the age of 24, and first became involved in the property sector in 2004 as an administrative officer for the Rent Service, now part of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). I took every opportunity presented to me to further my knowledge in the built environment, beginning my journey by enrolling in the NVQ level 4 valuation course which led to my AssocRICS qualification in 2014.

Without an accredited degree to pursue becoming a chartered surveyor, I longed for the opportunity of an alternative route. Finally, the VOA advertised the chance to join an apprenticeship programme through the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust.

I jumped at the opportunity - with the understanding that it would be a long road.

The programme was new for the VOA and very testing for myself. Juggling work, family, a degree and the APC structured training was a challenge I’ll never forget.

The first step was to get an accredited degree so I began my studies at the University College of Estate Management in 2015 with financial support from the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust (CSTT).

The VO provided significant financial support as well as learning and emotional support. Just over 12 months into my degree I had a blip which meant I had to re-do some Maths and English exams because the ones I had done in the Caribbean were not recognised. Fortunately, I was able to do this swiftly without too much trouble.

"I was minutes from death"

My biggest test came in late 2016 when I was said to be just minutes away from a cardiac arrest whilst playing football. This came as a shock as I was healthy, sporty and very active - but my life was saved by those very facts. I was diagnosed with an underlying heart condition, and underwent surgery to fit an ICD.

I carried on with my studies and will always be grateful to UCEM who were there to support me if I chose to defer my learning. I completed one of my assignments at the hospital and passed.

I had moments of doubt where I wondered if I should be spending more time with my family and friends before my time ran out. I thought of my children and wondered whether I was making the right decision to continue my studies instead of maximising my time with them, even though they were actually the motivation for all this hard work. But my motto was “never quit”: I wanted my children to know that I never gave up and thanks to the best medical assistance I ever imagined I was able to carry on pursuing my dream, finishing my degree and proudly graduating in December 2019 with a 2:1.

The most difficult period came from year two of my degree when I began preparing my APC structured training. Doing the two simultaneously was a test of greater commitment, planning, motivation, fortitude and - of course - plenty of procrastination. Adding APC to my work life, degree, family life and the social aspects of my life made it my biggest challenge.

My current role which includes statutory and Red Book valuations with the District Valuers (DVS) within the VOA was my final rotation in preparation for my APC.

There is not one ‘right’ way to approach the process, however, I kept my APC diary up to date and focussed on completing my degree before dedicating more time to the APC process.  Leading up to the case study preparation and getting my submission up to standard I relied on colleagues and friends to look over my submission.

"Covid-19 - a whole new hurdle"

The Covid-19 lockdown created a whole new hurdle which meant face to face mocks and Q&A were out of the question. The idea of an online final assessment was new to us all, but I had to swiftly adjust to the idea. I called on every friend and colleague to be my sounding board and I think I must have presented my case study over 100 times (this included Skype presentation to friends/ colleagues, to my bedroom mirror, bathroom mirror, my son, my daughter and my laptop video...) My plan was to get my case study nailed on just within 10 minutes, which I felt would get me in a good position for the rest of the interview if I had perfected that.

I found being part of various groups very helpful, including RICS Matrics, Property Elite, Surveyors Hub, and groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as regular visits to the RICS updates.

This will always by my advice to anyone on this path > Stay current and stay connected.

Whilst there were a number of hurdles to overcome, I promise nothing will feel sweeter than opening ARC or your email to see the words ‘Congratulations, you have passed!’

Roy Albert MRICS is a dad-of-three and surveyor with the VOA, based in Bristol. He has signed up to become a LionHeart APC ambassador to pass on his experiences and insights to others on their APC journeys. 

  • Find out more about LionHeart's APC Support here

Latest Posts

2020
July
20th - Video
June
24th - 'If I can do it, so can you'
22nd - How to ace your APC interview online
8th - Help! I've been referred... what now?
3rd - Your coronavirus concerns, and how we're helping
May
12th - Managing health anxiety through Covid-19 - and how we helped Mike
12th - How coronavirus might be affecting your mental health
March
31st - Rising to the coronavirus challenge
24th - Keep connecting - in a different way
13th - Demonstrating our impact
February
4th - The Big C and grabbing life
4th - "Cancer wasn't meant to happen to us"
January
30th - My journey as a charity trustee
7th - Top 10 tips for CVs and interviews
2019
December
9th - Grief and loss at Christmas
November
7th - Charity trusteeship
6th - How counselling can help manage stress
October
9th - Living with anxiety and depression
July
10th - How coaching can help
May
16th - Changing attitudes to mental health
15th - The vicious circle of body image & mental health
14th - Social Anxiety & how we can help
April
11th - Life with Parkinson's
March
12th - Memory tips from the training front line
January
22nd - Losing a parent
8th - Frequently asked questions about LionHeart
2018
December
7th - LionHeart's support was a game-changer when I failed APC
August
16th - When the reality of motherhood doesn't quite go to plan
July
10th - The story behind surveying's Sisterhood Summit
2nd - The rollercoaster of being a first-time dad
June
22nd - My father's suicide and what I've learnt
14th - Tips for your RICS APC final assessment interview
7th - Trust in the charity sector
May
21st - Is it really okay to not be okay?
April
17th - Building resilience through your APC
January
8th - 7 ways to get more active this year
2017
December
4th - Coping with loss and grief at Christmas
October
5th - "I was told I might not be cut out to be a surveyor"
September
26th - Resilience, and why we need it
August
21st - APC Revision Top Ten Tips
July
12th - LionHeart on new fundraising code of practice
June
19th - Living with 'invisible' illness
14th - How LionHeart helped us live life
13th - Men's Health Week 2017
May
22nd - Living with panic attacks
18th - Why we must care about work life balance
11th - The chicken-and-egg of mental health and shame
February
2nd - What I learnt from Dry January
January
31st - "My 19-year journey to MRICS is what made me"
5th - Ways to be kind to yourself in 2017
2016
September
7th - Suicide prevention
August
1st - Coping with APC stress
July
13th - "I constantly watch my husband for suicidal signs"
May
26th - Dealing with referral at APC Final Assessment
19th - How mindfulness can help your relationships
18th - "I live, and thrive, with depression"
17th - Men and mental health
16th - Mental health and your relationship
April
26th - Starting out in surveying
March
11th - A happy retirement
February
1st - My Dry(ish) January
January
21st - Spring clean your finances
6th - When to consider couples counselling
2015
December
4th - Having a (financially) healthier Christmas
November
19th - Identifying and dealing with workplace bullying
18th - How to help a loved one with an addiction
June
15th - Reflections on the Lionheart Surveyors’ Football League season
12th - Carers
10th - How LionHeart can support carers
9th - Desktop Relaxation techniques
May
29th - Techniques to help combat anxiety
20th - Helping a family member with depression
18th - Achievements that make a difference
16th - Five things that may indicate your colleague needs help
11th - Helping during a panic attack
Helpline 0800 009 2960           or 0121 289 3300