Advice Needed: Real Estate Career Path

WSO Fam, this is my first post so here is a brief introduction,

I am currently going into my senior year of college at a non-target university majoring in finance and real estate. I don't have the best of grades as I will most likely graduate with a 3.0 GPA. This past summer I landed an internship at a solid commercial real estate firm within the appraisal department of the company. The team I am currently on specializes in retail and are one of the top producers for appraisal in a major metro area. The plan is for me to continue interning part-time during last year of school and then they have suggested that they will offer me a full-time position as a senior associate once I graduate.

Here is where I need some advice:

The work has been particularly boring since I am mostly doing the due diligence for the reports, but they have been giving me more responsibility pretty quickly in the time that I have been here including creating lease abstract and inputting data into Argus DCF. Appraisal in itself is pretty shitty, learning about the markets/how to value RE is great, but overall I don't think I can see myself doing this for my entire career.

So, I am wondering if I should stay with this company once I graduate since I'll have been interning for this company for a year and can probably negotiate a hirer salary or explore my options elsewhere (acquisitions, brokerage)? Just not sure if it would be worth it starting at the bottom again and potentially earning a lower salary for a different gig. Also, not sure if I could get a job at another solid firm since my GPA isn't the greatest and the only RE experience I have is working at my current company and a boutique appraisal shop prior.

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Comments (14)

Aug 8, 2016 - 10:41am

In my opinion, you should absolutely stick with that company for a few reasons:

1) You're not likely to get hired as a Sr Associate anywhere else without being an intern or analyst first. And once you're an Associate (senior or otherwise), it's much easier to move laterally to another firm than it is to move upward to another firm.

2) Being an appraiser, though obviously not the "sexiest" of RE jobs, can absolutely be a solid foundation to a career in CRE. You'll learn all of the terminology in and out, probably meet or hear of a lot of the players, and will at the very least get a good handle on the academic approach to valuation. It can also be a solid entree to another, tangential career path.

3) Finding a job right out of UG is not incredibly easy, especially when, as you said, you're not at a top university and you don't have solid grades. Not saying you're not a great asset to a company - but you're only as good as your resume until you get your foot in the door.

4) If you really don't like it - at least you'll be getting paid and will be employed while you look for other work, thus enabling yourself to be more picky with which opportunities you pursue. In other words, if you're unemployed - you're more likely to take any job just to pay the bills, and that can turn into a bad cycle of getting stuck in jobs that don't pay well and aren't what you want to be doing.
  • 1
Aug 8, 2016 - 3:27pm

Thank you, this is great advice! So, if I were to stay with my company for another year after I graduate I'll have 2 and a half years of appraisal experience would that be a more appropriate time to try and pursue a different career opportunity? Also, do you think it is easier to get into acquisitions or brokerage coming from appraisal or is there no real difference?

Aug 8, 2016 - 5:09pm

I'd say yeah - in two years, assuming you'll be ~24 years old, having been an associate for a few years and a licensed appraiser, you'd be a competitive candidate for either an acquisitions or brokerage position.

As mentioned - having an appraiser background is definitely appealing to other sectors of the RE industry.
Aug 9, 2016 - 4:29pm

Do you have your trainee license? If you have 2 and a half years of actual experience with reports you should stick it out and get your MAI. Once you have that a whole plethora of doors open up and it slates your income significantly higher.

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Aug 11, 2016 - 9:25pm

You have Argus experience? You could definitely get an acquisitions analyst role with an office-focused firm when you graduate.

Low GPA means dick in real estate unless you are targeting Blackstone and Carlyle and the like too. Erase that negativity from your mentality immediately.

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