By Thomas Savage
With an abundance of options and industries to choose from, many upcoming college graduates do not immediately consider commercial real estate as a top career choice, and certainly not if they do not have connections or experience working in the industry during their studies. While talented millennials and Gen Z workers increasingly flock to jobs in the technology sector, they may be missing exciting career opportunities within commercial real estate.
There are many career paths in the industry, but commercial real estate has traditionally been slow to adapt and communicate the variety of roles it offers. Many students or recent graduates may be familiar with commission-based brokerage, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a vast field of rewarding job opportunities that work together to support one of the world’s largest industries that continues to grow and evolve.
As innovation has crept into an in industry that has remained largely unchanged for many years, commercial real estate companies have begun to recognize the need to hire from a more diverse group – demographically and academically – to satisfy the demands of clients in a changing world.
In fact, commercial real estate companies have seen that by expanding the hiring pool into other college degrees, such as engineering, analytics and sciences, valuable new perspectives can be gained. Someone with this skillset but without the desire for a commission-only compensation structure might, for instance, decide to start their career in research, financial analysis or consulting, all of which are highly data-driven. The role that advanced analytics, decision-science tools and optimization models will play in the future of all aspects of the built environment cannot be underestimated, and young professionals with these skills have an opportunity to shape the future of the industry for years to come.
Regardless of someone’s entry point into the industry, any worthwhile commercial real estate company should invest the time to ensure young talent is mentored and developed. For example, the national Transwestern Young Professionals (TYP) group provides networking, career development and community service events to young professionals throughout major offices across the country. Through this program, team members can build lasting bonds with their colleagues and gain valuable exposure to other lines of business within the company. Additionally, Transwestern offers a Business Analyst program, which provides extensive training to a select group of young professionals to equip graduates with the tools they need for a successful career in the industry. Finally, leadership at Transwestern has recognized the role that young talent can play in shaping the culture of an organization – and the industry – and continually seeks out the feedback of these individuals through participation in steering committees, task forces and leadership groups.
Despite the array of commercial real estate jobs, there are a few key skills that are common throughout each business line and should be constantly developed, regardless of role.
Attention to detail. Whether it is communicating with a client, reviewing a lease contract, or analyzing a property budget, this is one of the most important attributes to be successful in commercial real estate.
Critical thinking and problem solving. The problems that clients are facing in today’s technologically advanced world increasingly demand creative solutions that come from an authentically diverse workforce.
Entrepreneurial and nimble attitude. Commercial real estate offers unlimited potential and the ability to take ownership of one’s success and career path by embracing change and finding new ways to add value to the organization.
It’s critically important to choose a commercial real estate company that will continuously develop and hone these skills as professionals are given more responsibility and the opportunity to explore other facets of the industry. One of the greatest attributes young professionals can offer is the diversity of backgrounds, ideas and experiences that each team member brings to the table every day. Anyone considering a career in commercial real estate, or interested in looking into it further, should value a firm that seeks out diverse talent.
As a Vice President, Thomas Savage is responsible for advising real estate occupiers throughout the country on site selection and lease negotiation.