Adam Cliff - College of Engineering and Technology - University of Derby

Adam Cliff, Architectural Design, 2011

Adam's success continues as he wins the Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year 2014

What did you think you’d be doing after graduation

After graduating from the Joint Honours degree in Property Development and Architectural Design degree in 2011 I wanted to start my own business helping people with development projects. With the media at the time portraying the message that there were limited jobs or opportunities for graduates, I thought creating my own job would be the best route; that all changed after doing my dissertation.

I didn’t think that when I graduated I would be doing what I do now, and who knows where I’ll be in two years time, but I do know that without the degree I chose and the subject of my final year, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m certainly lucky to be getting paid for doing something I enjoy.

How did you get to where you are now?

Having grown up through my teens knowing of and experiencing property development, I became aware of empty homes and the problems they cause for neighbourhoods and surrounding communities. Whether anti-social behaviour, theft, vandalism or squatting, I knew from the start of my degree that the subject of empty homes would end up being the theme for my dissertation.

I worked very closely with Derby City Council on the research and study for my dissertation, both from its conception to completion, and having their support has definitely led to the success I have had both in the work I produced, and where I am today.

I moved to Peterborough during the Christmas break in my last year of study, and whilst proof reading my dissertation, found the role of Empty Homes Officer advertised on the Peterborough City Council website. Although I didn’t think I had the experience or knowhow, I was encouraged to apply by my family so gave it a shot.

Two months later, I was starting with the council as a part-time officer, and within two weeks the role had changed to full-time. 

What did you wish you’d done or known when you were a student?

The range of jobs that are out there and available. Whilst being in the role with Peterborough City Council and working with colleagues both internally and externally, anything that you study, either through the whole degree or through its modules, can be tailored and expanded on to fit into a job role. There are so many routes you can take throughout a career, but starting off on a footing that you know both inside out and enjoy so much, stands you in good stead for whatever you want to achieve.

How to stand out to employers

Know your subject, research your employer and prepare well. I certainly wouldn’t be in the role I am now if I hadn’t studied the subject throughout my dissertation- and even having done that, I still needed to perform well at interview and impress on the day.

Interviews, placements, CV’s, networking, experience advice you may want to pass on to the students

For interviews, CV’s, placements and networking, it would definitely be to sell yourself and be professional. Never underestimate who you come into contact with, and how they can in some way help you in the future.

As for experience, whilst you can’t teach it, every experience you have sets you up for a point in your career in which you will need it again. I worked in a shop whilst I was at school, which taught me the values of customer service, but learned more from having a bad experience as a customer myself.

"Every day is different, whether it be tracing an owner of a property, going out on visits to abandoned properties, or consulting with other authorities on best practice, the variation of day-to-day work makes the job thoroughly enjoyable." Adam Cliff