Posts Tagged ‘interview’

I recently had the pleasure of talking to 3 executives involved in Commercial Real Estate acquisitions. I will share with you what they had to say in regards to landing a position as a real estate analyst which is what I am interested in.  The discussion can be summarized into 3 areas: education, training/experience, and NETWORKING. The last area was highly emphasized and carries as much weight as the first 2.

Let’s first discuss the type of education needed in the field. A B.A. in Business Finance, Accounting or Math will help tremendously as you will be working with numbers, finding inefficiencies, building complex models, analyzing leases, rent rolls, and financial statements. A degree from a top-tier university isn’t necessary unless you’re planning on working for a company like Blackrock, but it will help separate your resume from others. I asked the executives what their opinion was in obtaining an MBA and although 2 executives had one, the consensus was that you don’t need an MBA for this position. All three of the execs called an MBA a “check box” on a resume, a very expensive check box.  They said if you have the time and money go for it, but it will only be a deciding factor in landing an interview.  One of the execs said he has a “street MBA” and said time would be better spent getting more technical experience and networking. Organizations like the Urban Land Institute (ULI), NAIOP the Commercial Real Estate Development Association were recommended which offer various courses and webinars in CRE Finance. Additionally, acquiring the CCIM designation, getting the Argus DCF Valuation certificate, and taking several advanced courses in MS Excel was strongly encouraged. One person even suggested going for the CFA which is considerably less expensive than getting an MBA.

Of the RE Analyst job postings I’ve read, all of them require some type of analyst experience. I asked how does one go about getting this experience if no one will hire you without experience. All of them agreed this was a catch 22 and two of them said they just got lucky and kind of “fell into” their first analyst position. One of them said this catch 22 is the case now because so many companies are operating very lean that they want to hire someone that is going to come in and hit the ground running.  They don’t have time to train, but as the economy turns around there will be opportunities for those with limited experience.  One of the execs I talked to said they started out as an underwriter at a very well-known institution so that may be a possible route to break into the position.  One other person said they started out as an assistant for a broker and he strongly suggested this route. He said the pay will be minimal, consist of long hours, but after a year or two you’ll learn the language, build relationships and know who the big players are in the industry.  This moves the discussion in to the last area which is networking.

To be successful in CRE, you need to meet lots of people and build relationships because it’s not who you know but who knows you.  I won’t go into the how to’s of networking here, that’s a whole other discussion.  The point is that after spending all the time, and money in additional training, it won’t do you any good if you still have to submit your resume to a recruiter or fill out an online 20 page application that will probably get placed in a stack that no hiring manager cares go through.  You need to move to the top of the pile and to do this you have to go out to networking events and seminars and meet people.  No one said it better than in a recent article I read, “you need to treat your life as one giant networking event, and meet as many people in your field as you can.”  Great organizations that have networking events are the ULI and NAIOP, you can also get involved with your university’s alumni organization.  Take action today and meet someone new, connect with me on LinkedIn