UCL Careers


Alumni Profile: Jessica Tu

Read up on UCL alum Jessica Tu's career journey from studying BSc Urban Planning and Real Estate at UCL to becoming a Chartered and Senior Surveyor.

A portrait image of UCL alumni Jessica Tu.

28 February 2023

Jessica's Introduction: I graduated from UCL in September 2019, and have since worked at Cushman & Wakefield. I rotated across the Industrial Agency and Retail Valuation team (where I currently sit), and became a Chartered Surveyor in 2021. I have since been promoted to Senior Surveyor in 2022, with my current projects focusing on providing advice to institutions, property companies, retail funds, investors and debt providers.

Jessica's time at UCL:

  1. What did you study here at UCL?

BSc Urban Planning and Real Estate.

1a. What did you do outside of your studies (e.g., student societies, volunteering, part-time job, etc)?

I acted as Faculty Representative for the Built Environment, Vice Chair and Treasurer of the Bartlett Urban Planning Society, Student Consultant for the UCL Quality Review Framework and I also volunteered as a mathematics tutor.

Jessica's career journey so far:

  1. What does your career path look like? What motivated you to pursue this line of work? How did you get from UCL to where you are today?

Given the technicality of my degree, I already was clear I wanted to move towards a commercial real estate role. In order to achieve this, I applied for internships and ensured I had a number of extracurricular skills to supplement my application. In terms of motivation – I find it fascinating to be able to have a direct role in shaping the built environment around me. 

2a. Have you been able to apply any of the skills and knowledge you gained from your degree to your role? If not, how did you go about developing these skills?

I have mostly applied the soft skills from my degree – the ability to write reports has massively helped me! Another thing was confidence in publicly speaking, which was very helpful when presenting to my colleagues and my clients.

2b. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your career so far?

It’s fine if you aren’t sure - when I started my role, I was incredibly nervous and was worried that I wouldn’t have the right knowledge or skill set, however I soon realised that graduates aren’t expected to know everything – in fact, it’s quite the opposite! As long as you approach everything with a sense of learning and being honest when you aren’t sure on things, you will be fine! 

  1. What does a normal working day look like for you?

It varies – a mixture of inspections out of the office, report writing and working with numbers for the valuation. It’s a nice balance of working in the office and chatting with colleagues, but also the inspections mean I’m not just sitting at my desk all day.

  1. What is the most enjoyable part of your work? Equally, what is the most challenging part of your work?

Aside from the variety within my role which I mentioned earlier, I genuinely enjoy working with my team – I’m lucky in the sense a lot of us are around a similar age, which means we all get on well! In addition to this, those more senior at work are incredibly friendly and relaxed – I often have chats with my line manager about her family and children! The most challenging part of the role is the level of responsibility – it can be a little terrifying sometimes when I am asked to lead meetings, however I think equally it’s a great opportunity to learn and grow.

  1. What are currently the most topical issues that you see happening in your field of work?

As boring as it is – at the moment business rates is highly topical for retail valuation, as rates in some shopping centres have fallen by 20 – 50%. In addition, the market has become incredibly turbulent following a number of government policies, with investor sentiment changing overnight. On this basis, we are approaching 2023 with a level of caution for our valuations.

  1. What advice would you give to students and recent graduates who are looking to move into a career in Real Estate?

I would say to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the sector above all else – think about what interested you to join real estate! Interest in the work is often much more highly favoured than just having knowledge so ensure you can explain what interests you about the general sector.

To discover what sector you have enthusiasm for, book a one-to-one short guidance appointments where you can receive personalised advice and guidance to help you explore different career options.