Real Estate from the Student's Perspective

Jul 31, 2017

Written by: Kelly Jameson, RPA, St. Cloud State University

I recently had a chance to connect with three recent college graduates from University of St. Thomas, St. Cloud State University, and University of Wisconsin-Stout. The 2016 BOMA scholarship recipients were leaders in their class, and have recently entered the commercial real estate industry.

As a professor at St. Cloud State University, when we head back to school each fall, we have faculty training days where we cover topics such as: “Who is the student body this year? What do they like? How do they learn?”  Every year that I teach real estate, it is one year further from when I was a student myself. And although I like to still think of myself as quite young, I graduated from college in 1998, which is right around the time that many of my students were born. So I like to take advantage of trying to stay relevant with the students in my classes.

Our next generation of real estate leaders are graduating from college and I sat down (or rather e-chatted) with three recent graduates to get a millennial’s perspective.

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Cally Samson
2016 BOMA scholarship recipient
Graduated from University of St. Thomas

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Jeremy Grittner
2016 BOMA scholarship recipient
Graduated from St. Cloud State University

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Trevor Anderson
2016 BOMA scholarship recipient
Graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stout

1. When did you graduate and what are you doing now?

Cally: I graduated in January 2017 and am a property manager and development associate at Hyde Development in Minneapolis.

Jeremy: I graduated in the fall of 2016 and accepted a leasing position at Mall of America one month after graduation.

Trevor: I graduated in May of 2017 with a Real Estate Property Management and Golf Enterprise Management degree and a Business Administration minor. I am currently an Appraiser Trainee with Diversified Real Estate Services, Inc. in Minneapolis.

2. What from your education in real estate most helped you on the job?

Cally: A real estate education helped familiarize me with the basics (such as real estate terminology and how to read a lease) prior to working in the field.

Jeremy: What has helped me most coming out school was the ability to understand different lease structures and the financials behind the lease agreement. It was a good transition taking Real Estate Finance my last semester. Another course that has assisted me after school was the NAIOP challenge. That has been helpful to understand how to work as a team to get things done. Here at Mall of America we have construction, marketing, public relations, tourism, events, sponsorship, IT and various other teams that all need to come together to make each deal happen.

Trevor: Stout gave me a general understanding of the industry, a base of terms, and how certain aspects of the industry work. This background helps me further understand more complex processes and theories within the industry. Most of all, Stout gave me the opportunities to be able to network and interact with real estate professionals before graduation. Having the opportunity to network as a student helped prepare me and made it more comfortable to do so as a professional in the real estate world.

3. What was your biggest learning curve, something that you learned on the job that you weren’t expecting, or something you couldn’t or didn’t learn in the classroom?

Cally: Most of my knowledge has come from on-the-job experience. I have encountered many unique, real-life situations that could not have been taught from a book. I’ve learned to problem solve and think on my feet as things arise. I was lucky to be able to work with my current employer, Hyde Development, while I was still studying at St. Thomas, so I had this experience even while I was a student.

Jeremy: Memorizing where all 520 stores are located at Mall of America. I should have taken a class on that. ;)

4. We always hear how the industry is aging. Baby boomers are retiring and we need to prepare the next generation to lead the industry forward. What do you think is most important to learn from the experienced generation of real estate professionals?

Jeremy: The most important thing to learn from today’s real estate professionals is what they think will happen in the future. Many of the seasoned professionals have seen both good and bad sides of the market. The market is constantly changing and so understanding the past will help my generation prepare for the future.

Trevor: I agree, and also think it is also important to understand how the seasoned professionals got to the position they are in and what they do in their job. When baby boomers retire, it will open up opportunities for the next generation to lead potentially quicker than in the past. This gives my generation less time to learn a very complex industry; therefore, we need to learn not only real estate procedures, but also business and management concepts.

5. What fresh and new ideas do you think your generation will bring to the industry? How will things be different 10 years from now?

Cally: I think our generation will implement technology in ways we’ve never seen before. It’s already easier than ever to work remotely; we’re less tied-down to a physical location. Also in ten years, I’d hope to see many more women leading in this predominately male industry!

Trevor: The future will bring transitions to technology and systems which will streamline various procedures and increase efficiency. The real estate industry is research and data driven, so there is a great opportunity to make use of technology. Students should come out of universities with knowledge and practice of the newest technologies. I also think the industry will also be much more flexible and less traditional. Just as many owners and managers are seeing within their properties and tenants, the next generation has different working techniques and standards. Not everyone needs their own desks, and group meeting spaces are important. A good work-life balance promotes better productivity. Many technology and social media companies provide flexible work space and hours, and I think this will become the standard across other industries.

6. What do you like about your job and what are your hopes for the future?

Cally: I love that my days are always different. Sometimes I’m in the office; other times I’m on a construction site. The people are my favorite part, though. I’m fortunate to work with a talented group of professionals—from brokers to bankers to contractors—who make my job a delight!

Jeremy: I like the variety and the opportunities that come with the job. Each day is different and you never know what retailer you could be talking to. My hope for the future is to assist Mall of America on staying at the forefront of shopping centers and continuing to set trends in the retail industry.

Trevor: I enjoy the continuous education within the appraisal sector of real estate and the ability to gain a perspective of many different industries. I am learning in-depth concepts of real estate from a different perspective than most entry-level positions provide. My key reason for stepping in to this industry is due to the aging within it, and the opportunities that will arise from that. I plan to learn as much as I can at an early age and accept challenges early on in my career to allow for as much personal development as possible.

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Category: Industry Insights


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