Is a Career in CRE Right For You?

Real Estate

A commercial real estate career can be rewarding and challenging—but it isn’t necessarily for everyone. We talked to experts to find out how college graduates and young people can decide if a career in this industry is right for them, and what it takes to build a successful career.

Henry H. Alexander, III, a partner and director of industrial service at Colliers International, says that talking to people in the industry and networking is the starting to point to deciding if CRE is the right career path. “Go talk to folks. Try and figure out if it is a fit. Ask the contacts you meet with and trust if they think CRE could be for you,” he says. “If so, what role? There are many areas in the field and every person is different. If it is brokerage—like me—then go ahead and get your license, don’t wait on a job for that, there’s no reason to. I can tell you if you are interested in brokerage and you are not a self-starter then it is going to be a tough go. Companies will take notice in any preliminary steps you take on your own.”

Mentoring is also integral to success in CRE. New entrants into the market should align with industry veterans and build career-lasting relationships. “Take the initiative to learn from those around you and build relationships with industry veterans,” Zach Ames, senior director at Franklin Street, tells “Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and leverage your resources to strengthen both. Be diligent and responsible but understand the important of confidence. Understand the value of building meaningful relationships in the communities in which you live and work. Stay committed to your personal and professional growth, and most importantly, lead by example.”

Thorn Baccich, VP of development and co-department head at Flagship Healthcare Properties, echoes the necessity of a veteran mentor for a successful career. “Find a good mentor, a person that you can trust, talk to and depend on, for fair and non-biased advice,” says Baccich. “Finding a real estate niche to specialize in early on can really help, especially when you are in a larger city. It’s very hard to be a generalist “jack of all trades” real estate guy or girl in a large urban area. One can make themselves more valuable by becoming an expert in a specific industry.”

Making relationships within the industry are important, but community relationships are equally as important, especially in forging client relationships and finding new opportunities. “In addition, it is also important to be active in your community, attend meetings, become educated through working with leaders and doing research, join your neighborhood association, and sign up to be on a committee,” says Baccich. “These are all things that help you be present and aware of how your street, neighborhood, and city are changing and who the people are that are causing it.”

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