During the summer of 2020, a summer like no other, the Eisenberg Foundation has been hosting a Virtual Roundtable Summer Series. These intimate conversations with industry leaders are a networking resource for current and aspiring real estate students to experience small-group discussions with industry leaders on a variety of timely and relevant topics.
In response to the rapid change in our nation’s student learning environment, the Eisenberg Foundation quickly pivoted its real estate education programs, proving their steadfast commitment to provide unique opportunities designed to build and launch careers within the industry. The Roundtable Series bridges the gap between networking and information sharing in the coronavirus era. It provides students with a virtual forum to expand their knowledge and networks.
The first topic for the Summer Series on June 5th was “Entering the Workforce During Uncertain Times” and welcomed three industry professionals to the inaugural panel. Speakers included: Gina Fridberg, senior vice president, Wintrust Bank; Michael Brancheau, partner, Higgins & Brancheau LLC and Zach Yarnoff, managing director, Cushman & Wakefield. The topic could easily apply to young professionals who recently entered the commercial real estate industry workforce as well as recent graduates trying to land their first position in the industry.
Getting started in any industry can be challenging enough. Throw in a pandemic and the challenges only increase. One of the keys is to remain enthusiastic. Fridberg suggests that along with working hard, this is the time for exploration.
“You have many years of work ahead of you,” Fridberg said. “Use this time to really think and explore what you want to try! Take classes, read books, volunteer!”
According to Brancheau, in difficult times, young professionals can really look to establish and grow relationships with those who would be mentors, not just today but throughout their career.
“Mentors will be able to provide guidance and advice based on their experiences,” said Brancheau. “Mentors will also be able to make important connections to help expand your network, the same network that might be able to help you land your next job.”
Yarnoff agreed and said building and sustaining your network can be especially critical at this time. “Many companies have been forced off a traditional hiring cycle and will be hiring based on an immediate need. As a result, and given there are fewer roles being filled, meeting people and staying top of mind is critical,” said Yarnoff.
During the roundtable discussion the participants talked about the importance of various skill sets. Yarnoff believes it is important to be able to demonstrate the mastery, or at least the working knowledge, of technology.
“Any edge you can get yourself when going up for a job is important,” Yarnoff said. “There typically is an assumption that young professionals are technology savvy in most basic applications. Being able to demonstrate advanced knowledge of a more specialized software program—Argus, Excel, inDesign, etc.—can be a strong differentiator when you’re competing against other highly qualified candidates.”
Brancheau said that while a certain level of tech proficiency is good, other qualities may be even more important.
“I think it is more important to showcase your ability to learn, to listen to advice from others and to work hard to master the skills required for any job,” Brancheau said. “You do not need to know everything. You simply need to demonstrate that you are ready to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, in order to perform at the highest level.”
As young professionals launch and progress throughout their careers, Fridberg said that respect and honesty in written and verbal communication along with follow up go a long way in determining success. According to Brancheau, being humble helps a lot too.
In summing up the advice for young professionals in the industry, Fridberg maintained that those who are just starting out or early in their careers “shouldn’t be afraid to work long hours, really dig into the material and ask thoughtful questions!”
To learn more about the Eisenberg Foundation’s Virtual Roundtable Summer Series and support opportunities, please visit http://eisenbergfoundation.org/real-estate-education/#/ or contact us at [email protected].
About the author
Olivia Simmons serves as the Program and Events Associate for the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation.