Military Veteran seeking advice, passionate about a career in real estate and developement

Brand new to this website-all advice is appreciated:

I am 28 years old, recently separated from active duty as an Air Force Intelligence Officer with experience in data and event analysis. I have BS in Architecture- (1 year of work experience prior to military service) and a finance certificate from Harvard's online extension school (finance/business related). I live in Florida, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Ft L, are all easy relocates-but willing to go anywhere.

The goal is to be any development role within 3-5 years- this is my passion and willing to take any job or path to get into the career. I have laid out the options I have identified below- please critique or offer your professional opinion/solution. (note* I have read that experience is better over education, and I agree- but what type and where and for how long I have no idea.)

Options:
1.) I have an interview as a project engineer at a construction firm in Chicago- they have not offered my the job- but I believe I would get an offer having a friend at the company.
2.) I have an "offer" to start being a sales agent at Marcus & Millichap and learning how to sell CRE. Naturally, no salary and no reasonable commissions expected for 9-12 months- their training program seems attractive- is it well respected in the industry?- seeing mixed sentiment online, on glassdoor in particular.
3.) Training program at CoreLogic- the pay is not great, but it is an 18 month "boots to business leadership" program in a company that specializes in "Powering the Global Real Estate Economy" through "informative intelligence."
4.) Will an MBA (MSRE or MSRED) get me there quicker/ is it worth the debt for the long-game career advancement? Looking at 1 year programs only- MIT, NYU, Florida, Columbia.
5.) I see entry level analysis and valuation positions at CBRE and JLL- do I have a chance getting those? I have a friend who works there- but it is such a big company- will they take a risk on me w/o a pure finance degree?
6.) My cold online job submissions, about 30, have all been ignored for assistant project manager- unless I know someone.

Also- ARE YOU HIRING? or just need a HIGH ENERGY PASSIONATE pupil in your office- I AM YOUR MAN- wherever you are!

Thank you in advance for your insight and recommendations.

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Comments (13)

Jul 31, 2017

1 - This is your best option. Chicago is extremely reputable for real estate and will look great on a resume. Work here for 2-3 years. Go back and get your masters and jump to a top NYC fund.

2 - M&M is okay. I know I'll get some pushback on this, but starting out in that industry at 28 is tough. I was at a firm that was a boutique with one of the best training programs in the world. One guy from a similar background came and failed miserably. He was 27 and he was too old for hand holding but too inexperienced to work with experienced clients alone.

3 - Skip. Don't waste your time.

4 - Good idea, internships while you attend will be key seeing as though you don't have any experience in the field.

5 - Skip CBRE and JLL. I would look at either Eastdil or SRS. They have better mentorship programs.

6 - Use selectleaders exclusively. Much better return on your time.

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Jul 31, 2017

Thank you very much for your thoughts. I was not weighing enough significance on the Chicago opportunity. You blew my mind with Eastdil, SRS and selectleaders. I have never heard of any of those companies or the website.

I laughed out loud at you #3. I have a phone call with them in 30 minutes.

Jul 31, 2017

Of your current job prospects list, I would say the project engineering experience will serve you the best making the lateral transition. Design and construction experience is a useful angle, and a fairly common leverage point in making the move to a developer if you can fill in some knowledge gaps along the way (modeling, etc). The brokerages can be great opportunities to learn underwriting and the major market players, but only if you find the right senior broker to match. That is absolutely not a relationship that is worth rushing into.

For someone in your position, yes--an MBA or MSRED will absolutely help you fill in the gaps on the finance experience and help hone your story. My personal recommendation would be to consider finding the market you want to work in, get into a full time MSRED program in or near that metro area, and network like crazy during the year to establish as many RE relationships as you can that could turn into real jobs.

Also, just a personal opinion--don't spend another second filling out online applications. Set up a contact tracking spreadsheet and spend that time x5 cold calling/emailing development people in your preferred market for coffee/in person informational meetings. That's where you will most likely find something.

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Jul 31, 2017

Amazing point with the contact tracking spreadsheet! I have been wanting to set up informational interviews, but have been spinning my wheels with these applications instead. I will certainly turn that into action. Not a fan of the CoreLogic idea either huh lol?

Jul 31, 2017

yeah...again just IMO, but that corelogic program seems like BS. If you are a good networker, articulate and treat the networking process like a full time job, I would be willing to bet you can land some kind of analyst-level role without doing one of the stepping-stone programs. The development business in particular is about getting real-time/real deal repetitions--the faster you can throw yourself into that position the better. Many of these programs deal with theoretical case studies, but unfortunately those rarely do more than scratch the surface in terms of understanding how the full cycle development process works.

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Aug 1, 2017

This is my first post, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I have nothing new to add to the conversation, but will share my story as it might help reinforce other peoples opinions as someone who is going through it now.

I have a similar background. 32 years old, US Army (10 years) and Wildland Firefighter, BS in Project Management, but I have been doing my own equities and real estate portfolio analytics since I was a teenager. I had very basic financial modeling skills, and no industry contacts (when I started). I just started my MSRED program using my GI Bill and I networked a lot. I am using my GI Bill for living expenses and getting as many internships as I can. My school all the professors are adjunct. My two real estate professors both run private funds in town. I purposely let these instructors know my interest (Analyst/Asset Management) and performed well in their classes. I have already been talking with one about an analyst position that he may have open upon launching a new fund. I am also a student member of NAIOP and ULI, and got selected to tour London and study real estate development for a summer. My city is very small, but everyone knows the program. Even though I have only been here for a few months, I have had numerous job opportunities. The key for me was to join organizations, meet decision makers and employ Dale Carnegie tactics. Always ask about their success and what skills their firms need. Always send a follow-up card/email, and put notes about interesting things in your phone under their contact information. When you see them again, you will have something to talk about and they will remember you. It truly is amazing how business still runs on a handshake and your word. If I had the chance to go to a target school program I would have, but due to family constraints I could not; I envy you there. I also setup tons of informational interviews, researched ex-military working in real estate on LinkedIn, and setup a spreadsheet to track contacts.

I apologize for the long post, and I did not mean to tell my life story. Hopefully it served as a small case study and helped confirm everyone else's opinion on option #4.

Aug 1, 2017

The longer the post the better. All of that experience and advice is solid! I started googling "Military to real estate" this blog and the CoreLogic program came up. I turning over many stones online- now need to turnover in person. Are there any specific skills/programs I can work on in my own time to better my marketability pre or post grad school? And do you think I should hustle to get employed first or grad school? (while obviously networking as best as possible throughout both avenues)

Aug 1, 2017

In my opinion I would go with the project engineer gig assuming it is a reputable firm while also possibly going part time for your MSRD. Or you can do then job and see how it is and if you hate it then just go full time to school. I think if you had a Construction/engineering experience to talk about along with a basic understand of modeling I think that would go a longer way than just getting a masters with no experience.

Everyone always talks about the financial modeling aspect of real estate which yes it's incredibly important, but at the end of the day there is so much more to Development and you having project engineering experience would give you a unique skill set to a developer. This is just my opinion, but there's tons of ivy leaguers out there who can model in there sleep and it's really not rocket science. If I ran a firm and a guy knew the basics but came with expertise in construction/engineering, that would hold more value to me. Than again, I'm not a developer :)

Good luck in whatever you choose and thanks for your service.

Aug 1, 2017

thank you!- That is the consensus, the project engineer route. I appreciate the perspective. Thank you for your reply- it seems like i can learn how to model on my own- but that wouldn't bring the street cred onto a resume? Thank you!

Aug 1, 2017

I think it depends entirely on what aspect of development you want to be in. Each shop runs different.

Your big shops (Related, Extells, etc) would likely want previous REPE/IB experience for a Development Analyst position as their more finance heavy. I've seen smaller shops post have Analyst/Associate/Assistamt Project Manager which are both finance, construction/project management hybrids

I think you should definitely continue to cold email and see where it gets through and arrive for that project engineer position. Can't see a Vet having any trouble getting responses..

Best Response
Aug 1, 2017

First off, thank you for your service. Getting down to business -

LettuceDevelope:

1.) I have an interview as a project engineer at a construction firm in Chicago- they have not offered my the job- but I believe I would get an offer having a friend at the company.

This would be a solid job for a couple years. That knowledge will really help you in development.

LettuceDevelope:

2.) I have an "offer" to start being a sales agent at Marcus & Millichap and learning how to sell CRE. Naturally, no salary and no reasonable commissions expected for 9-12 months- their training program seems attractive- is it well respected in the industry?- seeing mixed sentiment online, on glassdoor in particular.

This is not a solid option. Consider it a last ditch effort option. M&M is a sweatshop and I can't imagine their training amounts to much more than "how to dial faster to meet your cold call quota without your fingers bleeding"

LettuceDevelope:

3.) Training program at CoreLogic- the pay is not great, but it is an 18 month "boots to business leadership" program in a company that specializes in "Powering the Global Real Estate Economy" through "informative intelligence."

Not going to get you where you want to go either.

LettuceDevelope:

4.) Will an MBA (MSRE or MSRED) get me there quicker/ is it worth the debt for the long-game career advancement? Looking at 1 year programs only- MIT, NYU, Florida, Columbia.

There are more 1-year programs than those as well. If you're considering Florida/the south, you should also be considering Clemson and Texas A&M. Auburn's might be 1 year too - check on that.

LettuceDevelope:

5.) I see entry level analysis and valuation positions at CBRE and JLL- do I have a chance getting those? I have a friend who works there- but it is such a big company- will they take a risk on me w/o a pure finance degree?

You would have a chance and those wouldn't be a terrible place to be for a few years.

LettuceDevelope:

6.) My cold online job submissions, about 30, have all been ignored for assistant project manager- unless I know someone.

Start knowing people. Get involved in ULI/NAIOP/SIOR, etc. Cold email people asking to grab coffee and talk about the business.

What markets are you in/are you targeting, if you don't mind me asking? Might be able to help. Tons of activity in Florida as well - the entire southeast is booming.

I also am an MRED grad if you have any questions.

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Aug 1, 2017

Thank you so much! I need to schedule the interview in Chicago soon- unanimous support for this option it seems.
Those organizations are a great place to start huh? I do need to step my cold calling game. I am 2/2 with cold calls and 0/30 with online applications. So scheduling an "informative interview" or "questions about the office over coffee?"

My ideal market is Florida currently, mainly because of wife having a job. We are willing to move, however, and I have a robust network in Chicago I could tap into. I will go where the work is. My ideal plan would be to get 2-4 years work experience in a role as close to developing as possible- and then apply for and MRED/MSRED. The experience preference on those applications is what is leaning me toward a job first and then school. I contacted MIT and they are opening a small pipeline this fall for "young leaders" that waives that professional experience requirement- but then looking forward- I would hold a masters still with no experience. I looked into Auburn, heard good things, but it is a two year program.

Big question about the MRED- was it worth it-ROI? Did it get you a promotion, make you more marketable? or were your strengths, skills, and mainly network and relationships what still make you successful?

Aug 2, 2017
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