Interview with Kenneila Quashie, Elba Eagles graduate
Kenneila Quashie is Assistant Duty Manager at Broadgate, which means she liaises with our diverse shops, restaurants, bars, gyms and salons on a daily basis.
A politics graduate and east London local, Kenneila discovered the role via the East London Business Alliance’s Eagles’ property management programme — a paid graduate training scheme and internship. Here, she explains its impact on her own goals and ambitions.
Why apply for Eagles?
Eagles is focusing on young people who’ve been left a bit disillusioned by their degree or are facing the challenge of not being from a certain background. And for me, I wouldn’t be in this job if it wasn’t for them.
Eagles opens up new ideas and pushes you to meet companies. Plus, they don’t just give up on you. Even if you don’t make through every stage, they will link you into next year or other programmes.
At the time of applying I’d just finished uni and I’d decided I didn’t want to go straight into corporate work or do the law conversion course I’d previously been planning. So I was working as a bar supervisor in a pub for nine months; but I felt like my brain was turning to mush. Working back-to-back shifts and over Christmas and New Year, I started applying for graduate jobs but still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be.
When the Eagles link for Broadgate first came up it was all about property management and my initial reaction was: ‘I want to buy a house one day so I should learn about property!’
So what happened next? What was the process like?
You’re invited to head office where you do group workshops, some letter writing, proofreading and maths. I was quite excited about it because even though I didn’t enjoy uni; I like correcting grammatical errors.
After that stage we actually did an interview. Then, from the 200 or so people who applied, Broadgate Estates and Rendall and Rittner selected the final eight for interviews. Once you’re selected, you’re then assigned to the roles you’re best suited for.
And how did your interview with Broadgate go?
It was the most comfortable interview I’ve ever had – it was more like a conversation with Mark and Colin, who I now work with.
Beforehand, we’d had Eagles’ interview prep where they’d gone through the sorts of questions we might be asked or what to research before an interview. For me, it was the first time I’d ever experienced a professional interview so it really helped.
What other benefits did the Eagles programme give you?
The two weeks training at the beginning was amazing. We went into Rendall and Rittner and Broadgate where we were given property law and lease training. We learnt about Gantt charts and had Pitman business training, plus advice on dealing with different people in the workplace. We even had a member of the National Theatre come to help us with public speaking; by our second session, Adam the tutor had me taking centre stage.
Since then, we’ve had recall days so we could all meet up and talk to each other about how our work placements were going while Sally from ELBA would come in to see us. We’ve also had additional training.
How did you feel about starting the placement at Broadgate? And then taking up a full-time job here?
I couldn’t believe I was in such a grand place: the buildings, the company and the people. Having such a welcoming team made things so much easier and even the big bosses take the time to say hi to you. I had this image of the corporate world and it’s not like that. Mark my manager made sure I got all the relevant training and was introduced to everyone – even people who I don’t work directly with. Plus, my people skills have really improved, I’ve learned how to deal with lots of different personalities!
What’s the piece of advice you’d give to other graduates?
Don’t give up! Just get your foot in the door of whatever sector you want to be in.
Finally, you’ve gone back to your old school as a mentor…?
Yes! ELBA needed volunteers for Ilford School and I saw it on the Broadgate email and thought ‘Are you serious – that’s my school’. I’d always wanted to go back but just didn’t have a legit reason! So when it was World Of Work Day, I went in to say: ‘This is my school, I spent five years of my life here and I loved it’ and just tell the kids that you don’t have to follow the paths laid out for you, that you can go to uni, change your mind and still find something that suits you.
For more information about ELBA and the Eagles scheme, click here.