Alumni in the Real Estate Industry Discuss Market Statistics and the Importance of Thank You Notes

Last night a group of 10 Holy Cross alumni joined a group of students in Hogan to discuss what real estate really is, the various career paths available within the industry and how students interested in real estate can get a foot in the door.  The alumni present were: Colin Blair ’00 of Cushman & Wakefield, Justin Blair ’03 of The Monomoy Group, Brendan Cohn ’03 of Jones Lang LaSalle, Paul Formichelli ’96 of Jones Lang LaSalle, Jim Grady ’91 of Synergy Investments, Matt Harvey ’02 of Cresa Partners, Chuck O’Connor ’78 of Cassidy Turley, Bryan Sparkes ’03 of Jones Lang LaSalle and Kyle Trodden ’05 of Hudson Advisors.  They hold a variety of roles within the industry including commercial broker, residential broker, corporate services, construction management but during the conversation it was clear that all of the jobs had some key similarities like how no two days are ever the same and the importance of being able to effectively manage relationships.

Not surprisingly a big topic of conversation at this panel was the value of a Holy Cross education and the Holy Cross alumni network. The panelists talked about how competitive the business and how they are constantly fielding phone calls from young professionals who are looking for a job. Several of them said that, for a Holy Cross student, they can always make time but otherwise, there aren’t enough hours in the day to meet with all the interested candidates.

There was also quite a bit of discussion about professional degree programs – where the best ones were, what different programs entailed and whether they are worth it.  While there were varied opinions on these programs the general consensus was that, in the real estate industry, you should graduate college and work first, then think about a graduate degree later.  The alumni all seemed to agree that much of the training that takes place in real estate is really learned as you go by watching folks who’ve been in the job longer than you have.

What were some key takeaways?

1.  If you want to be in real estate, especially brokerage, you have to be willing to work hard.  You are constantly selling – you start with selling yourself to try to get a job and, from there, you are constantly selling as you try to generate business.

2.  Show up to interviews prepared.  It’s not enough to say, “I will work hard and am a good kid.”  If you’re going to a real estate interview – even if it’s an “informational interview” – know something about real estate.

3.  Proofread your emails.  Keep the exclamation points minimal.  No smiley faces.

4.  Write thank you notes.  There was some debate about email thank yous versus handwritten thank yous.  As some who is partial to handwritten thank you notes, I’ll say that the alum advocating for them noted that he gets hundreds of emails daily.  Thank you emails get deleted.  Handwritten notes stay on your desk for weeks.  Could come in handy if a few weeks after you meet a position unexpectedly opens up….

Thanks to the alumni for taking the time to come talk to us and we look forward to having them come back to campus again soon.

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