UC Berkeley Haas School of Business | Groups

Accelerating Careers in Real Estate - Orientation

Real estate is a unique industry and you need to understand the industry’s structure in order to successfully find your desired career.  Notwithstanding the size of the industry, there are few firms that are large enough to have recruiting programs or HR departments; finding the right job is a matter of understanding the structure of the industry, the myriad of career paths, and developing the network and relationships that will help your career grow.  These skills will be essential throughout your career.  Understanding the range of functional roles, locations and product-types are three critical dimensions of the real estate job search.

One of the more difficult decisions you will make is what role you want in the real estate profession.  There are numerous opportunities in: design, construction, capital/finance, investment, development, marketing, management, consulting, corporate real estate, and public real estate.  These are all broad categories and it will take careful consideration of your interests and skills, multiple shadow visits, informational interviews and an internship before you can fully appreciate the role you ultimately decide on.  We have developed a wide range of career path alternatives to help you focus your decision that you can visit on the BREC website.

Real estate is a local business where local market knowledge is a requirement and a premium is placed on relationships and reputation.  Although your skills are transferable across geographies, many of your relationships and most of your market knowledge are lost; it’s almost like starting over.  Depending on the functional role you have chosen the concept of local can be very specific (developer, for example); other roles have a much larger scope (finance, for example). It is important to determine where you want to work and to begin gathering your local knowledge. 

Product is another form of segmentation and differentiation.  These are very complex and very specialized fields with substantial amounts of information to be mastered.  Many firms are focused on only one product such as homebuilding or high-rise office development.  Even within industrial space there are many different types of product including R&D, flex, warehouse, etc.  As with location, some roles are more sensitive to the product specialization than others, and changing product will feel like starting over.

As previously mentioned, relationships are important in real estate and you need to start building your network today.  Join organizations such as BREC, ULI, NAIOP, NAHB, ICSC, SF/REX, CREW, WIRE, and Lambda Alpha.  These are important organizations that will help introduce you to the world of real estate.

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