From Advertising to Real Estate

Trying to get an idea of what my chances are and what next steps I should take. Background: I have a social science undergrad and an MBA from a bottom of the barrel University. I was fortunate enough to do one internship at boutique a M&A firm, always with the intention to get a job in real estate. After graduation, the job hunt didn't really pan out and I had to start working quickly. Apprehensively I settled for a job as a data analyst at large marketing agency. After 2 years, things are going well. I've had a few promotions and learned a lot of technical skills, but I hate the ad industry and want to start doing something I'm passionate about. 

My question is, whats the best way for me to get into real estate? I'm considering a few options: Start fresh as a commercial broker; Pursue a CPA and enter through the financial side; Pursue a CFA and apply and network like crazy or; get a job at a bank or large RE firm as a data analyst. 

Any Advice? What are my chances?

Comments (4)

  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Sep 16, 2020 - 1:18am

What do you hate about the ad industry? I could probably see your data analyst job as being more technical than most real estate jobs. Some underwriting can get pretty fancy, but most of the successful guys in the industry are capable of making deals whether in lending, pe, development, etc. CPA or CFA won't really carry too much weight. It's not too easy to start out as a broker either. Analyst or associate roles in debt placement or leasing can be good places to begin, but i'm not sure if things have really picked up enough for these shops to hire at the moment. There aren't really a lot of data analyst jobs that I've seen in real estate, plus most of those jobs will be more catered to corporate real estate. Figure out what areas of real estate interest you most and start networking with people.

Sep 16, 2020 - 9:56am

Pursue a CPA and enter through the financial side; Pursue a CFA and apply and network like crazy or; get a job at a bank or large RE firm as a data analyst. 

No to both of these. 

What you need to do is come up with a good reason why you want to be in real estate and then craft a story around it. Right now, someone is going to look at your resume and go "M&A...Advertising...Real Estate? What?" 

Commercial Real Estate Developer

  • 1
Most Helpful
Sep 16, 2020 - 10:03am

So, if you frame your question as, can I move into commercial real estate starting at effectively ground zero.... I think it should be clearer that the answer is obviously, yes, but that doesn't mean it will be easy or automatic. 

I wouldn't bother trying to go direct to any form of institutional real estate principal type job, I wouldn't say impossible, but you will be out gunned by the competition. So you need to concentrate of fields that are more or less open to total "newbies", here are a few options (not necessarily mutually exclusive)..

1. Real Estate Brokerage - anyone can get a license and get hired, but this means nothing as it will likely be 100% commission. Given your current job, a marketing/research analyst spot at a legit CRE brokerage could work, you could probably get this via networking/applying/cold calling. 

2. Real Estate Appraisal - not glamorous or well paid, especially at the beginning, but they are open to new people (by necessity in all honesty). This is very analytic and may fit your personality and skills well. Worth investigating for sure. 

3. Property Management/Building Ops - It's open to anyone, and in some cases is a "foot in the door", but really, this option could easily be dead end road to what you want. But it pays okay and has a career path, just not really as a "principal" (but not impossible). 

4. Go get an MSRE/D - So if you didn't completely kill your finances getting your "bottom of the barrel" MBA, you could go back and get a legit MSRE/D from a recognized program. Believe or not, those programs (like the ones discussed on WSO) do get people with grad degrees enrolling. This would reset you and basically open you up to the whole industry. This could be the fastest, but also most expensive way. In NYC, I've met many with backgrounds like yours who came to NYU/Columbia/Georgetown/etc. for an MSRE/D with no background and end up in legit institutional principal roles as analyst/associate. If you network/intern/work like hell, very doable. 

5. Seek an internship. This is counter-intuitive, but there is no real rule that says you must be a student to get an internship. If you approach smaller real estate firms and developers, you might be able to network your way to an effective low-paid job. I mean like $15-25 hr (in real city) with no benefits (like temp categorization). Do this for a year and you may be able to get a legit analyst role. Be sure to learn re modeling and other technicals. This is real hustlers route, but it is possible. Frankly, in the "COVID" world this is more doable as some firms scale back budgets to hire FT. The downside is the shitty pay, may take time to find a role, and really not much promise it works at the end of the day. If you combine with MSRE/D, this is a golden route. 

Bottom line, it's all about how much you want to hustle, work, and/or pay for credentialing. 

Sep 16, 2020 - 10:05am
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