If you could start over, what would you do differently?

Hello all,

I was wondering what your take/opinion is on your respective real estate path and what you wish you would've done differently. I constantly see people talking about exit opportunities, but why not just shoot for the job you want right off the cuff? I understand there are steps in getting over to the principal side once you begin brokerage but could you possibly narrow anything down, such as network more, learn to "X," etc.

Thank you for your time and advice!

Comments (18)

Most Helpful
Jan 18, 2021 - 10:13am
redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:
crescrub

 I constantly see people talking about exit opportunities, but why not just shoot for the job you want right off the cuff?

I think the above thought is correct, but falls deeply into the easier said that done category. The reality is that you are not likely to start your career with the actual skills, experience, and even maturity needed to be successful at the job you actually want. What may be worse is that the junior job at that firm may not actually prepare you as best as others could for the job you actually want at that firm. Crazy right!!!

I used to think more about this "what would I have done differently, knowing what I know now" type thing, but I have totally given it up. Why? The "career moves" that would seem sub-optimal (and def bad idea by WSO standards) actually appear to have led me to really cool positions and a career path that seems improbable (from my own prospective, not if the way my bio reads, which is so sterile it feels totally impersonal to me!). 

So, I just tell people to take the best offer you get, worrying about anything else is just mental torture. All else equal, I'd value true experience, responsibility, mentorship, and the ability to actual see/do/meet/work on cool projects with cool people over "brand name" or even industry category. That also falls in to the easier said than done category, but that's been my experience. 

Don't be afraid of non-standard paths, unique niches, or other "rabbit holes", those have been very advantageous to me personally. 

Jan 18, 2021 - 3:39pm
crescrub, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Beautifully written. I know what I want long term, which is development, but I also don't want to burn any bridges. Is it not scummy to take a job as an analyst for a broker, knowing you will jump ship in 1-2 years?

Jan 18, 2021 - 6:51pm
redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So, I think you should only take a job because you want that job, not for it's "Exit Ops", those should be bonuses at best. Further, there is no guarantee you will get that exit op how you want, where you want, and most assuredly when you want! To be clear, you might get a great opportunity in year 1 to 2, but you really cannot count on it or be so sure of it. 

Further, the only way to make sure you get it, is to work like hell at the brokerage or whatever you are doing. Thus, take the job and focus on the present. If you are so focused on jumping so soon, you may suck at your job, and thus making jumping and advancement hard.

That said, all early career "analyst" jobs are generally thought of as temporary for only a matter of a few years at most. That is why they can work people so insanely and get away with treating people so badly (not saying all do this, but its not uncommon). They KNOW you may jump in year 1, 2, or 3 and frankly they may WANT you to. Unless you are a great fit for production (not the same skill as being an analyst always), they may be more helpful in engineering your awesome "exit op" than you realize. Many analysts are hired with little intention of keeping them beyond year 3 at most. And yes, if you don't move along correctly, they could hasten that process against your desires (you should be able to see this coming from a far, but not always).

So, just take the job, and do you best. Unless you act like a scumbag in the process, you won't burn any bridges. Most analysts leave, that's part of the gig. 

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Jan 28, 2021 - 11:19pm
Fred Fredburger, what's your opinion? Comment below:

redever

I used to think more about this "what would I have done differently, knowing what I know now" type thing, but I have totally given it up. Why? The "career moves" that would seem sub-optimal (and def bad idea by WSO standards) actually appear to have led me to really cool positions and a career path that seems improbable (from my own prospective, not if the way my bio reads, which is so sterile it feels totally impersonal to me!). 

So, I just tell people to take the best offer you get, worrying about anything else is just mental torture. All else equal, I'd value true experience, responsibility, mentorship, and the ability to actual see/do/meet/work on cool projects with cool people over "brand name" or even industry category. That also falls in to the easier said than done category, but that's been my experience.

I definitely agree with this. Knowing what I know now and the position that I am in, if someone asked me what I would have done differently in my career my answer would honestly be nothing. All the "failures" in my career have lead me to where I am today and I'm very happy with what I do now. I know this sounds cliche, but every time I got rejected from a certain school or job I obviously perceived it as a failure at the time, but in hindsight, without every single one of those rejections or "failures" I would most definitely not be where I am today.

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Other
Jan 28, 2021 - 1:01am

This isn't something I could have changed, I wish I had learned about REPE and pivoted earlier. I had such blinders about working in Big 4 audit back then, and even though my clients were real estate companies, I was never curious enough to learn more. If I had, I wouldn't be an almost-30-year-old analyst now. 

Jan 28, 2021 - 8:57am
pudding, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Totally hear you but don't worry about being a 30 year old analyst. There's no rush out of the gate. And actually, my experience with people who switch over into real estate in their early 30s is they generally move up an in organization much quicker. I've multiple people go from analyst to VP in 3-4 years who started in real estate at your time. The prior 8-12 years of work experience is not discounted and generally allows you to perform significantly better than 22-24 year old analysts. Keep your head up. You'll be where you need to be when the time is right. 

Jan 28, 2021 - 9:00am
C8, what's your opinion? Comment below:

different school and maybe fewer jobs throughout my career. those are the changes I would have done.

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Jan 28, 2021 - 5:56pm
Jeezy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would've shot a little higher in terms of firm quality when starting out, had a little bit of a scarcity mentality after school. I still ended up generally where I wanted to be. 

Jan 29, 2021 - 2:23am
odog808, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I had to reflect on this because I like most would say I wouldn't change anything. But I want to bring a different perspective (more abstract) because we can always be a bit better prepared.
 

I think there was a trade off between being more ruthless and playing the game vs playing my game and being who I am always.  I think the former, I would have excelled further within corporate, as skill wise and work ethic I was the top performer.  The latter, playing my game and gravitating towards my passion led to an uncertain path but ultimately a more gratifying one.  But I would say, nothing is for certain either way.  
 

In retrospect, what I would do different was play the corporate game better.  Keep my cards / passion tight to the vest.  Take more credit.  Don't be afraid to throw others under the bus if warranted.  Ask for more.  Tolerate less.  Be more selfish.  Show more emotion, aggression.  While keeping my options open to be who I want to be.  I think if I emulated others above me, I could be in a different place.

The thing is, I feel it's hard for people to be both themselves and someone else.  And if they are, they are troubled somehow or complex.  Also, emulating the top doesn't always work out.  If I was more malleable, I could have stayed on the straighter path.

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
  • 5
Jan 29, 2021 - 4:08pm
crescrub, what's your opinion? Comment below:

odog808

The thing is, I feel it's hard for people to be both themselves and someone else.  And if they are, they are troubled somehow or complex.  Also, emulating the top doesn't always work out.  If I was more malleable, I could have stayed on the straighter path.

Me in a nutshell. Can I act like a broker? Yes. Do I want to be a broker? No, not really. Life is about being able to go to sleep knowing you're at peace with what you've accomplished the day prior. Thanks for the reply. 

  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Jan 29, 2021 - 4:27pm

Would have paid more attention in my RE classes during undergrad and got better grades/actually understood concepts, which would have lead to more and better internships. I was only exposed to CRE for 3 months, apart from coursework, before graduating. Had no idea about WSO until I graduated either, so I think this site would have been very helpful in getting to know what was out there besides appraisal and brokerage (all I knew from my one internship).

Had the above worked out, I would have moved to New York after graduation instead of two years later. But it all ended up working out so other than that, I wouldn't do much differently. I've learned a lot more during my first 3.5 years than what was taught in the classroom so I'm pretty much going about my job and career the way I want to and still have a long time to go.

Jan 29, 2021 - 4:33pm
ironman32, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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