Career Pivot via Masters in Real Estate

Hi all, have been a reader of a lot of the RE forums but first time posting.

I am currently three years into working as an electrical engineer for a Medium~Large MEP engineering firm in NYC. I have been involved with several of the firms ground up construction projects which have included both commercial and residential in excess of 30 stories. I know that I am viewed favorably in the eyes of the firm I work for regarding upward mobility, I also know that a few more years learning about the nuts and bolts of my current industry could benefit me in the long run.

Education wise I started as an Architecture major but changed schools and majors after sophomore year (from an Architecture school in the NYC area to a Big Ten School). My degree was not in the B-school and sort of an off-shoot of its standard finance degree. GPA was around a 3.2 (also have an architecture minor for what its worth).

I am trying to figure out out the best way to transition towards development and if that would be by way of getting a MSRE(D). I have looked at:

Baruch MS Real Estate [definitely the most cost effective option and only one offered in an actual B-school (although Zicklen is not super-super high ranked)]
NYU MSRE & MSRED [a bit pricey but seems to be a solid option (have a friend in the MSRED program now who graduated with a B.Architecture)]
Columbia MSRED [Columbia name is great but full time only is a bit of a turn off]

My undergrad background and work experience combo is a little unconventional and I feel that I am looking for a good way to tie it all together. I know that people get into development in all sorts of ways and I definitely feel that it is something I have a knack for; but trying to figure out how to steer the ship in the right direction to get there.

Thank you!

Comments (33)

 
1/29/18

Hi rts0806, yes, I'm a bot, but I'm also good looking. Hopefully, these threads help you:

If we're lucky, maybe these professional users will respond: @PacNumber @joshsabz @skier321

If those topics were completely useless, don't blame me, blame my programmers...

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

 
2/7/18

Do you have existing relationships with in-house construction management guys or development team guys at dev shops in your market? I would suggest meeting up with every single one of them and confidentially expressing your interest in moving to the principal side. Sell your experience in construction as being able to contribute immediate value in terms of helping reduce dev costs through more efficient MEP design, estimating, direct relationships with MEP subs, knowledge of those specific systems, etc. At every development shop I have worked at there is at least one dude from the contractor side of the business---it's definitely a workable angle.

MSRED is great if you can do it part time. IMO not worth losing 1-2 years of work experience to go full.

 
3/30/18

"Do you have existing relationships with in-house construction management guys or development team guys at dev shops in your market? I would suggest meeting up with every single one of them and confidentially expressing your interest in moving to the principal side. "
- Yes and no, I suppose I am a little wary on how that would look for my company if I were to have those conversations with developers that we are currently working for. I imagine there is a certain finesse that I would have to add to the conversation. There is one PM at a developer who we work with who has since gone somewhere else (another dev we don't do business with), perhaps that may be a good/better place to start

  • I did come across a LinkedIn job posting for a Ast. Project Manager position at a developer where I had connections from someone who used to work at my company. My connection got in contact with the job poster but position had already been filled. But I will keep my eyes open for more opportunities like this.
  • MSRED would be ideal in the near future, I would really like to go full time to focus all my attention on it, but the opportunity cost of lost income is rather intimidating
 
2/7/18

I think the masters would be a great route for you to connect your current real estate experiences. Out of the options NYU's MSRED would be best given its strong reputation within the real estate community, networking opportunities and ability to complete it part time. I think if choosing between Baruch and Columbia, Columbia's would be best long-term given the quality of exit opps you will get. Also definitely worth going out of your way to network with any development professionals you might have ties to - you might be able to save tens of thousands of dollars this way...

 
2/19/18

Great insight do you have experience working full time in RE on the deal side

 
3/30/18

I do not, when I read job posting for some of the types of positions that I would want, the job description frequently mentions underwriting experience. I know I would get this from any MSRED program. Perhaps this is something I could learn from a few classes or from one of NYU or Columbia's certificate programs? I can't imagine this is the type of thing that could just be a hole in my resume that would be answered with an "I can just learn it on the job."

 
3/30/18

Most people seem to push NYU over Columbia (and Baruch) for all these reasons you stated. If Columbia and NYU were both full time and only a year would that change your recommendation?

 
3/30/18

Yes it definitely would. As anyone will tell you, real estate is all about the network. So the way to think about the problem is which job will provide you with the best network and thus the best job opportunities.

With Columbia, having any ivy on your resume can never hurt. On top of that many Columbia MSRED alums go on to do great things (I've done a lot of LinkedIn stalking and have seen many at the executive level at well respected firms). But, there are many more graduates of NYU's program which also has a lot of successful alumni. The key differentiator is that it seems like more people from NYU end up at boutique real estate firms. Some people don't mind this but others really care about brand recognition. So the long answer to your question is that it really depends on your preference and long-term ambitions. In terms of course work, you will be learning from those at the forefront of the field at either place and it seems like professors are a great source for internships and even full-time job offers at both. I would also like to note that taking the GRE/GMAT takes a significant chunk of time and often deters candidates from Columbia for obvious reasons.

If anyone thinks this assessment is wrong, please feel free to comment. I have not gone through this process myself but have done a ton of reading and research into it and would ] like to learn more if possible.

 
3/31/18

I can confirm that many individuals from NYU's MSRE program end up at boutique shops. However, most of these people don't seem to care about brand name. NYU and Columbia would both give you a good chance of breaking into REPE (even though it may be at a small to medium size shop). It is also worth noting that NYU does have alumni from its MSRE program in large companies such as JP Morgan, Citi, Morgan Stanley, TH Real Estate, Prudential, Blackstone, etc.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

 
2/7/18

I think this depends entirely on what you want to do with a developer.

Do you want to move more towards the finance/deal side? Project management? Construction Management?

 
 
2/19/18

Hi

will the master be worth it in order to move to the finance/deal side?

 
3/30/18

I think it depends on the employment outcome. I've seen postings at development firms for Associate/ Ast. VP positions with salaries ranging from $100-180K (based on glassdoor). These positions ask for 5-6 years experience and an advanced degree preferably in real estate (i.e. me if I graduated with a masters in the next two or three years). Cost of Columbia's MSRED for example is appx $85k all in ($60K if I move back in with the 'rents on Long Island for a year)

 
3/30/18

Either finance/deal side or Project management, don't think I would want to be limited to just the CM process.

 
3/31/18

I guess what it comes down to is understanding what your goals are. Naturally, a Master's degree may open doors for you, but other wise men have spoken that great skills in networking can get you where you want as well.

Also, an MSc should be a fairly skills-based program. You want to make sure that the program offers you the ability to develop the advanced skill set that you're looking for (or what your next employment opportunities may require). I myself decided to forgo an MSc and go for an MBA in Real Estate instead.

 
3/31/18

Hey Debtlift! Mind to share why you picked MBA instead? Also, which school did you go to?

 
3/31/18

@Cindy-Halim below is a link that will be a valuable source in the near future. Unfortunately, the writers of the blog are backed up due to a busy summer, however they still expect to get a review of all the schools done in the foreseeable future. Best of luck!

https://www.adventuresincre.com/depth-graduate-rea...

 
3/31/18

Thanks for the link. It's actually one of my source links, a great source indeed :)

 
3/31/18

Agreed that it's your goals that will matter. A lot of foreigners come to the U.S. for the real estate master's degree as a way of getting into the U.S. and spending a few years (a lot of them are wealthy). They generally have no interest in getting hired and sponsored by a U.S. firm, and in all honesty, they should have no expectation that a U.S. real estate company would sponsor and hire them (there is plenty of U.S.-based talent with perfect, native English skills).

 
3/31/18

You've been working in this field for two years. I'm pretty sure you have a good idea if the MSc in Property is really necessary for keep doing your job successfully.

If, however, you're interested in becoming a manager or senior staff of some sort, MSc in Property or MBA is definitely preferable.

I personally think two to three years of working experience after bachelor's degree is long enough time to understand the basics and perfect time for start thinking about studying further.

 
3/31/18

A Master of Real Estate will definitely help you transition from Property Management to a more rewarding position in Real Estate. That said, you need to boost your language skills and I'd take some time studying English more. You don't have to be perfect, but the gap between the international students in my program with proper or at least near-fluent English skills and those who don't have that is immense.

As far as the programs you picked, they're all very different. Cornell is structured a lot like a two year MBA program would be (and for international students, two year programs are certainly best.) Georgetown is two years as well but primarily night school. You'd probably want to have a day job or internship during. I don't have as much insight into NYU. Another big one to think about though is the three schools you listed are in three dramatically different locations.

 
3/31/18

Longtime lurker here. What CRE is saying is definitely accurate with the transitional aspects the graduate degree can offer your career. The degree can be helpful (especially the MSRED) if you plan to stay in real estate whereas the MBA lets you be a little more flexible.

Be warned regarding post graduation US sponsorship prospects, a lot of employers aren't willing to take the risk and incur the cost unless you're a superstar. I'm not saying this to discourage you but the percentage of students I've seen get sponsored relative to student body has been relatively low.

I would also factor in the location of the program which determines accessibility to interviews, event opportunities (NYC vs Ithaca), and if the program has a true class cohort.

As far as Cornell goes it's really an MBA program with a real estate concentration based up in Ithaca which isn't for everyone. The class size is very small.

NYU is the biggest MSRE program but it doesn't offer a class cohort (it's a massive program) since the classrooms are small and students are staggered all over between full / part-time.

Georgetown is a medium sized program with a class cohort but the focus is definitely regional.

You also missed Columbia and MIT both also very different.

.02

 
3/31/18

I'd give you a SB but it appears that all bananas and shit have disappeared. @WallStreetOasis.com - is the site under construction at the moment? The "New" tag seems to be broken too.

Edit: And now it works. All hail the king monkey

 
3/31/18

weird...dont think we did anything...let me know if you see anymore issues. Thanks man :-)

 
3/31/18

Yeah, sponsorship has been a tough issue for international issue. But I'll work hard in what I'm passionate about and be the superstar (also, it always comes down to: work opportunity is everywhere, I just have to be flexible) :)

Good point there on location issue, I didnt realize Ithaca is quite a distance from NYC - thanks! I guess I'll put Cornell in secondary option, though the program is most tempting though.

I did look up Columbia and MIT, but they are both 1-year programs. I prefer 2 years as it gives me more opportunities to intern (or more experience). Do you know any 2 years program school located in greater area? Thanks.

 
3/31/18

Yeah, actually I kinda prefer 2 years program, it gives me more opportunities to intern (or seek experience in other word). I did notice the classes are in the evening, which is good, because it gives me chance to know people who are both working and taking classes at the same time (I assume graduate school during daytime is mostly filled with fresh grad or international students). As for location, since I'll be an intl stud, I'm not attached and am free to pick where I'll be at. Though as much as I prefer Bay area in California (siblings are there), I have yet found any real estate school in that area. Aside from Georgetown U., do you have any thought of other real estate program school (2 years and located in big cities)? Thanks.

 
3/31/18

Not the bay area of course, but USC's Master of Real Estate program (in Los Angeles) is much lauded on the west coast and the network extends to the bay area.

 
3/31/18

If you want something longer, Texas A&M (where I go) is a 1.5 year program.

"There are only two opinions in this world: Mine and the wrong one." -Jeremy Clarkson

 
3/31/18
"jon1987" wrote:

If you want something longer, Texas A&M (where I go) is a 1.5 year program.

Clemson, Georgetown, and Cornell are all longer as well - although they aren't on the west coast either.

 
3/31/18
 
3/31/18

1-Click to Unlock All Comments - 100% FREE

Why do I need to be signed in?
WSO is a knowledge-sharing community that depends on everyone being able to pitch in when they know something.
+ Bonus: 6 Free Financial Modeling Lessons with 1-Click Signup ($199 value)