Sophomore: Architecture to Real Estate

lunturn's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 27

Hey guys :)

I'm a rising sophomore getting a bachelors of architecture degree. I'm looking to possibly go into Real Estate, particularly development and other sectors that are more on the buildy/architecty side rather than the finance side. I have a few questions:

  1. What are key experiences/skills I should know and the best ways to learn them? Classes or learn on the job experience?
  2. What do real estate firms look for in new hires? To what extent are real estate firms looking for concrete skills vs more invisible stuff like soft skills/personality/leadership/critical thinking?
  3. When/how do people get real estate internships? Is it mostly networking and such? I know there's lots of opportunities for college students in finance and other banking jobs, but there seems to be fewer college-specific programs for real estate.

Thanks so much!

Comments (28)

Aug 5, 2019

More or less, I don't want to miss out on learning something need-to-know while I'm still in school

Most Helpful
Aug 6, 2019
lunturn:

Hey guys :)

I'm a rising sophomore getting a bachelors of architecture degree. I'm looking to possibly go into Real Estate, particularly development and other sectors that are more on the buildy/architecty side rather than the finance side. I have a few questions:

My current boss comes from this background. It's a great place to start. If I were to pick an undergraduate degree again, it would probably be architecture, for what it's worth.

lunturn:

1. What are key experiences/skills I should know and the best ways to learn them? Classes or learn on the job experience?

You're going to be able to bring a lot of insights from your architecture background, so focusing on learning real estate finance will be key. Learn how to model a deal via https://www.adventuresincre.com/ and other resources.

I will say that to really make the most of your background though, you probably should work as an architect for 1-2 years to get a feel for it. You'll learn more in your first six months on the job than you will in 4+ years of school and you'll be able to meet developers in the field.

lunturn:

2. What do real estate firms look for in new hires? To what extent are real estate firms looking for concrete skills vs more invisible stuff like soft skills/personality/leadership/critical thinking?

This varies from role to role and firm to firm, but since I'm assuming you're interested in development, the answer is all of the above. The developer or development manager is the quarterback of the team. In architecture, you learn to be a specialist, akin to a wide receiver (with the GC as the running back - less flashy, more brute force) but you're still not calling the plays or reading the defense (delays, municipalities, and budget overruns). A developer needs to be above average at most things, but more importantly, a master of getting his or her experts to work together to deliver a project on time and on budget. Personality, drive, network, financial acumen, eye for design, leadership skills, organization - they're all essential.

lunturn:

3. When/how do people get real estate internships? Is it mostly networking and such? I know there's lots of opportunities for college students in finance and other banking jobs, but there seems to be fewer college-specific programs for real estate.

Thanks so much!

It is very much networking. Read Curbed, Bisnow, and your cities' business journal to find projects highlighted in articles. Then, reach out to the people/companies who are developing those projects.

Again though, and not to dissuade you, but if I were you I would work as an architect for a year and then make the transition. This is not uncommon. You want to be able to bring real life architectural experience to your role as a developer, not just book knowledge.

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Aug 7, 2019

Want to second this because I've noticed the same thing. Architects in construction/development that understand and can work towards achieving the project's financial goals are very rare. There are a lot of people with architect backgrounds that don't understand the financial aspects of the business.

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Aug 11, 2019

How do you think's the best way to learn the financial aspects of the business? Through business classes or real world jobs n stuff? I'm trying to plan yanno :) make sure I'm on track

I'm ultimately looking for a more of a management role in the architecture or real estate industry. I really enjoy management/leadership positions, and I'd like to think I'm pretty good at it. Not sure whether it means a businessy role in architecture or an architecturey/project management role in real estate.

Aug 11, 2019

Thank you so much this was incredibly helpful!! I've been kinda unsure of how to break into real estate so your long response was greatly appreciated :) Definitely gives me structure for how to move forward

For the short term, are real estate college interns expected to know stuff/need to know stuff to get hired for over the summer or is it a learn on the job sort of things?

Aug 11, 2019

never mind i realize that you completely answered this already. Thanks :)

Aug 6, 2019

I come from this background. I'm going to have to disagree with some of the above. You will be wasting time working as an architect (and making crap money doing it). You will be mostly overlooked for development positions. If your school offers it switch majors to RE now, or a business major with any sort of RE ties. What you learn in arch school is mostly worthless in the real world, aside from CAD, which is only worthwhile if you want to be an architect forever, which you don't. PM me.

Aug 7, 2019

In addition to what was said above, there are quite a few people who have done this. Beach City Capital in SoCal comes to mind. The founder is a nice guy and got his MArch from USC and now runs his development shop. Interesting deals.

My mentor (not mentioned above, I've only met Jason Muller in passing and he wouldn't know me) worked at a top architecture firm before working in development.

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

Aug 7, 2019

And I will add, you can always get your undergrad in RE or business, then get a Masters in Architecture later and still become an architect if you really want to. No need to waste your undergrad in arch school.

Exhibit A: https://www.arch2o.com/study-shows-architecture-st...

Aug 11, 2019

Yeah, I could. Honestly though I really really love architecture school right now though. I'm mostly considering real estate for a few reasons:

  1. everyone tells me architecture school isn't representative of the industry so i'm spooked that I'm not gonna like the actual work
  2. real estate pays way better than architecture. Money def isn't my endgoal but it's still an important factor yanno
  3. I'd like to think I'm pretty good at being organized/managing people/the soft skills that're necessary for managing people and projects.
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Aug 13, 2019

I want to grab you firmly by the shoulders, look you straight in the eye and tell you "SAVE YOURSELF. GET OUT BEFORE ITS TOO LATE."

There's still time for you to properly change your path. Get out of arch school. Come back and thank me later.

Aug 7, 2019

I came from this background, worked in construction management right after arch school, got an MBA in RE finance, and now work in development. Read my posts on the site or if there's something specific that I haven't mentioned PM me

Aug 11, 2019

that's awesome man that you've seemed to find your place and have such a diverse background.

Do you have any tips for the short term regarding getting internships/real world experience within my next few years at college?

Aug 8, 2019

Although my earlier background in architecture allows me to catch a lot of risk/ opportunities that others would miss, starting out I would get a business degree instead and take electives in design/ construction management. Your architecture degree will be a liability getting an internship because of the not undeserved rep designers have of not getting the business side.

Or...you could just proceed with your architecture degree, work for some time as an architect and transition into a owner's rep/ PM type role into a development firm but that leap isn't always easy.

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Aug 11, 2019

Any tips for things to do in college to set up a leap from architecture to real estate? In class take business/construction classes? Do you have any tips for getting internships in college?

I'm definitely committed to architecture school right now, honestly really love the work at school. I'm mostly considering real estate bc

a. people always tell me school isn't representative of the arch industry
b. I'd like to think that I have good soft skills for management/leadership positions, esp bc I'm my class president right now.
b. real estate pays way better

Aug 14, 2019

You need to prioritize whats important to you first.

Do you want to do architecture or RE?
Is $ more or less important?
Do you want RE internships or arch internships?

You are speaking of two things that do not coexist well and really do not coexist well at a junior level.

Not trying to be overly harsh but from an optics standpoint to potential employers you are not helping yourself by taking the clean route by not doing business as a major.

Its like 'hey I want to do a marathon but Id prefer to lift weights to train how do I make lifting help me run a marathon better.'

    • 1
Aug 14, 2019

.

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Aug 21, 2019

I've seen in limited capacity BS. Arch's going directly into development as analysts but it's been limited to target schools; I saw a couple UVA's, Brown's, Cornell's, etc. on that side as of recent. I'm sure it's doable but there are easier pivots if you're still in undergrad.

Sep 5, 2019
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