Career Paths/Exit Opportunities

I think this would be very beneficial to a lot of people on this forum, so if you could list your career path to how you got to your position you are currently in now from undergrad, as well as the firm or at the least the size, it would be very appreciated.

Ex: investment sales (think cushman/cbre) -> repe acquisitions (middle market) -> principal investor

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Comments (35)

Oct 16, 2018

Out of undergrad, Analyst -> manager at a major credit card company, credit card business/analytics

Then switched to multifamily lending

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Oct 16, 2018

major brokerage landlord rep leasing associate (CBRE/JLL/Cushman) for 3 years
to office developer, analyst/associate ($3B AUM) for 2.5 years
to multifamily developer, development manager (REIT, $11B AUM) current

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Oct 16, 2018

How and why did you make the jump from leasing to development?

Oct 16, 2018

Reasons: a) I was already bored after 2 years. There are only so many variations of lease transactions. b) you can get pigeonholed in brokerage really easily. For better or worse, there is a general perception that brokers don't have the intellectual capacity or skill-set to do a lot of principal investing work. Plus, if you ever want to move geographically, you are almost completely worthless outside your local market. Did not want to get stuck. c) Income glass ceiling. Generally speaking, the most you can make in brokerage is $1-2M/year as a senior guy in your 40s or 50s. Great money, but bigger bucks to be made.

How: all networking. took about 6 months. leveraged office experience angle and an MRED to do execution for an office developer as an analyst, which required a 60% initial pay cut from my commission levels.

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Oct 16, 2018

Good thread. Hope it blows up, enjoy reading peoples career paths.

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Dec 1, 2018

[Deleted]

Dec 2, 2018

Good Post.

Dec 3, 2018

Bump

Most Helpful
Dec 4, 2018

On a conference call, so I have plenty of time to answer. If anything, let this be a lesson that a lot of times there isn't a "path"

  1. Graduated with a sub-3.0 GPA in Political Science from a shit school you've never heard of because my highschool grades were shit too. Divorced parents, lack of a challenge, laziness, getting As on every test but never doing any homework assignments, etc. - every excuse in the book. Failed out of college at one point because I got mono, took a month and a half off, and showed up asking for what work I missed. Took the LSAT, did well, but realized soon after I didn't want to go to law school. I had a ton of "leadership" positions in college - fraternity president, student government president, university budget council, etc. but little to show for it. Behind the curtain, I was pretty weak. I needed a job yet had no skills outside of being personable, confident, and outgoing. Naturally, I looked toward brokerage.
  2. A fraternity brother of mine was an investment sales broker with a name brand firm. I networked in over a 6-month period and got hired as a market analyst.
  3. I worked hard and became head market analyst. Wanted to be front office, so got my license and talked to my bosses about it until they promoted me.
  4. Ended up being a case of the grass is always greener. The principal I was assigned to was one of the worst professionals and worst people I've ever met. Made my life hell for almost a year. Nevertheless, I got us into a pitch with what would have been the biggest deal our office would ever land due to my relationships. My office took me off the pitch team so I could "focus." My office left the deal. It was the final straw, and I told them I would not be staying with the company past the end of the year, giving my notice, because I would have to go on a draw and I didn't want to be in debt to these people. They fired me on the spot. The principal I was assigned to wasn't even in the room to tell me in person - he had his partners do it.
  5. By that time I had been dating a girl long-distance and decided I would just move to where she lived. Got hired by an out of state family office to do multifamily acquisitions, but they had a problem in that their property manager just quit, their lease-up was behind, and if they didn't hit 100% by August they wouldn't for the year because although it wasn't student housing, the building was almost all graduate students. It was a B- asset with A+ location. They said "hey, you know how to lease. I know you've never done this, but could you please lease up this building? Then you can do what you were hired to do." I leased up the building in time, but prices in the market skyrocketed and they lost interest in buying anything else. So, I turned into a full time residential property manager - not exactly my dream or the height of prestige. Company starting giving me shit for not knowing how to be a property manager - go figure.
  6. Realizing that neither of my previous two jobs were what I wanted to do at all and neither ended well, I applied to MSRE/MRED programs. Both as a broker and a property manager, I saw who really held the power in the industry - the owners. People I knew in the industry found a lot of success in transitioning to the buy side by going the Masters of Real Estate route and I realized that my resume to date did not reflect my abilities or goals whatsoever. I got in to a number of places, picked the one I thought best fit my goals at the time, and soon after was told I was being let go as a property manager. Alas, the "let me speak to your manager" -esque regional did not like me much. At this point, I had 2 companies on the resume with 2 terminations to show for it.
  7. I started looking for pre-MRED internships with the pitch of "I am going to graduate school this fall, so I'd really like to intern with you ahead of time to learn the ropes." Got a full time job offer at a REIT at this point, which I wonder about every time I make a student loan payment. I turned it down because it wasn't development. I needed money during my internship hunt, so I worked as a superintendent with a GC renovating an airport Holiday Inn. If you ever wonder what is behind the wallpaper at old hotels - let me tell you - you don't want to know. Years later this GC would get raided by the federal government for hiring illegals and get in a class action lawsuit for not paying overtime. It was a class organization, let me tell you.
  8. Finally, I landed a summer analyst acquisitions position at a family office that was well known in the city I was in. A lot of people assumed I was someone's son or grew up in the richest neighborhood in the city because those are the only people who worked there. Hilarious. Learned an absolute ton that summer, from highbrow stuff like how to underwrite deals to doing low brow due diligence walks at expiring Section 8 properties and finding hoarders, FBI drug stings, pedophiles, and getting hundreds of fleas literally up to my knees.
  9. Went to graduate school. Overall, I'd rate it a 6.5/10 experience. My main complaints were that it was very light on finance, geared toward the lowest common denominator (and 1/3 of the class was straight out of undergrad), and taught you more how to be a visionary developer than what you actually do as an associate at a company. Still, I did a summer associate stint at a NMHC top 25 developer, made some truly absurd connections/mentors, and accomplished a lot - won a couple elections, won a couple competitions, got nominated to a regional ULI board, graduated with above a 3.8, etc.
  10. After this long and windy road and an iron clad resume I was proud of, I hit the job hunt. Struck out at least 70 times, maybe over 100. Finally got an offer from a prestige firm as an asset manager and a start up development associate. Took the development route and didn't look back. Got promoted to development manager. Been doing this about a year and a half.

Along the way I had to learn how to be a professional, how to channel my strengths, how to care about excelling, how to build a network, and how to mold myself into who I am today. All that said, there are infinitely easier and cheaper ways to do all of this. Proper guidance/mentorship from the start would have helped. Hell, one of the reasons I post so much on this forum, mentor students from my graduate program, and give my opinion as much as I can is to help others who were in my position.

Most people will probably find a middle ground between "the path" and my meandering nonsense. The point is, there are many ways to accomplish what you want to accomplish, and if you keep driving forward and have the necessarily skills and mentality, much is possible.

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Dec 5, 2018

Thank you for your service.

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Dec 5, 2018

How do you have time to write these detailed responses every day?

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Dec 6, 2018
Bernie L Madoff:

How do you have time to write these detailed responses every day?

I write long responses maybe once a week, not once a day.

I also notice you're in banking. I work something like 55 hours a week on average. Plenty of time in a day when you're not slaving over Excel for 80.

Finally, like I said, conference calls are boring and go on 2x-4x longer than they need to.

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Dec 10, 2018

How did you deal with all of the adjustments between switching roles within the industry? Did you find it to be challenging at all or did you find that there were ultimately a lot of transferable skills from one roll to the next?

Dec 10, 2018
hard assets:

How did you deal with all of the adjustments between switching roles within the industry? Did you find it to be challenging at all or did you find that there were ultimately a lot of transferable skills from one roll to the next?

There are a few transferable skills, but a lot of transferable knowledge. Office brokerage taught me how to read a lease and how to be comfortable and confident in talking to everyone. Property management taught me property operations and now that I lead property managers and regional managers regularly, it helps me to understand their roles, motivations, and difficulties. Acquisitions taught me financial modeling. All of those are essential skills to what I do now.

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Dec 10, 2018

How was your comp at each of these levels? I'm really interested in how RE comps go.

Don't beat yourself up on this, Eric. Some people like taking the long way home. Who the fuck knows?

Dec 10, 2018
Jake Paul:

How was your comp at each of these levels? I'm really interested in how RE comps go.

Oh lord - trying to remember.

Brokerage: $30k + Commission
Property Management: $65k + $5k lease up bonus
Acquisitions Intern: $60k pro rated
Development Intern: $75k pro rated + $2,000 moving stipend
Development Associate $60k + 20% + 50 bps at sale starting.
Development Manager: Been promoted since and make much more.

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Dec 4, 2018

Finance undergrad.

2 years credit analyst at regional bank underwriting general businesses loans.

2 years credit analyst at local bank mainly underwriting small RE investment / development loans.

1.5 years Masters in RE Development with solid development internship

1 year Family Office working in Development

Dec 5, 2018

Did you try to move into development out of underwriting? Or did you go straight for your MRED thinking that it would be too difficult to land a development role w/ your credit background.

Asking as someone with a very similar (credit) background contemplating additional schooling (MBA w/ RE concentration) in order to transition into acquisitions/development.

Dec 6, 2018

My goal was to move into RE and also move markets to get closer to wife's family. I saw it as a very long shot to successfully do both without going to grad school.

To answer your question - it's possible to do but I would recommend the grad school route. It will open up many doors and opportunities having the credit background with a RE focused degree. When financing real estate, I didn't truly understand how little I knew about real estate. Meaning, by the time it hits the bank, it's in a nice pretty package. The majority of the heavy lifting is done at that point. You'll learn the fundamentals and framework of all the other pieces - market analysis, design, entitlements, legal, engineering, construction, etc - and will come out more well rounded and marketable. Put simply, it's less teaching for a lean RE firm that hires you.

Thinking in the context of a long term career, grad school may help you discover your "one day dream job" and jump on the best, most focused path to get there.

Happy to answer in any other questions.

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Dec 6, 2018

This is great, thanks @ShYzA88 . Just sent you a PM with some more questions.

Dec 4, 2018

@CRE heck of a route... My route is kinda similar... well, at least the bumps in the road are similar.

  1. BB Asset Management for 2.5 Years doing condo/residential loans in the $5 - $100M range
  2. RE startup for 3 months. Asked to leave as they figured out organizational structure...
  3. IS in major market for about 3 years. promoted a couple times, butted heads w a partner and was asked to resign.
  4. Generalist Senior Analyst doing acquisitions, AM and FPA functions for about a year n change
  5. Promoted to Acquisitions Associate with substantial sourcing responsibilities

Similarly to @CRE I had to learn how to be professional and impress those around me. I'll tell you this for free, Principal side guys are not impressed like IS guys which took a bit of time for me to learn. My path, similar to CRE's, was not the smoothest, but hey, fortune favors the bold. I'm a pushy, confident dude with faith in what I know. I will step on toes to get where I want not because I think I'm the best, but because I believe I can add value. So, don't be frightened to be bold when the time is right. As you can see from my path outlined above... my timing wasn't always right...

I am not sharing this to brag about how badass I am or whatever. I'm sharing this because I see a lot of people in this biz that don't have the moxie. You think the higher ups think about the shy silent nerd guy yes man when they want to push someone into a deal sourcing role? Of course not.

Disclaimer: this advice is meant for those on the brink of breaking through the glass ceiling, not 1st, 2nd or even 3rd year analysts / associates.

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Dec 6, 2018

Love this. Thank you.

Funniest
Dec 4, 2018

1) public school in the NE. Graduated as valedictorian and attended top target (currently attending)

2) slacked off in school and got bad grades. Didn't matter. Applied to internships using my major gpa and landed one at a BB my sophomore year

3) used sophomore year experience to get internship at an EB this upcoming summer. Making $150k a year. Might do some real estate deals

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Dec 4, 2018

this kid rules.

Dec 8, 2018

troll post

Dec 5, 2018
  1. Joined the military out of high school, turned 18 two months before boot camp.
  2. Was an air traffic controller, fully certified in 50% of the allotted training time.
  3. Was selected to go the AF academy while enlisted but turned it down to get married (still married to this day).
  4. Completed my bachelors while enlisted.
  5. Was selected to be Surface Warfare Officer for the Navy, turned it down as my first child was born and I would be have been gone 7-9 months out of the year for the first 4 years.
  6. Finished grad school in international relations at a state school while enlisted.
  7. Finished grad school in economics at a state school while enlisted.
  8. Separated from the military while living in Turkey and accepted an engineering role for a labor market firm in the inland NW.
  9. Solved quite a few hard technical problems for the company and moved into a pure research data science role.
  10. Research role put me a under a new boss who was just hired and working remotely, almost got fired, turned it around, then left.
  11. Now work from home as a data scientist for a cyber-security company working on risk management - quantifying in financial terms (new for cyber-security).

I applied and turned down once in a lifetime opportunities as they weren't right at the time. Many people (senior military) were not happy with me and made my last few years in the military rough. Now I volunteer for a veterans program and have senior military networking with me on how to get into data science.


"I am always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though."
-- J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

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Dec 5, 2018

Science degree at semi-target > finance degree at non-target > Big4 M&A out of undergrad > Mid market PE

Dec 5, 2018

How do you go mid market PE from accounting?

Dec 5, 2018

Big4 M&A groups have nothing to do with accounting. They basically operate as mid-market M&A boutiques that happen to get lots of deal flow from the audit side of the firms, so it wasn't too complicated. Got introduced to several shops using top headhunters and accepted an offer as I was involved in 4 different recruiting processes. Overall a good experience and was happy that it went fairly quickly as opposed to my first attempt to move to PE roughly 3-4 months prior.

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Dec 5, 2018

Where are all the Philips Exeter --> GS TMT / MS M&A --> Mega Fund PE --> HBS --> BX PE Partner track people?

Dec 5, 2018

Went to public school but I have an offer from a top EB. I will most likely follow the track you listed though. AMA

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Dec 5, 2018

Lol, @EliteStudent11 goes to UNC Chapel Hill and got a SA offer from Harris Williams.

Dec 6, 2018

If you are good at your job, then you'll have exit opps. It's really that simple.

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Dec 6, 2018
Dec 6, 2018