Today, there are a myriad of resources available to individuals looking to further their skill sets within the commercial real estate industry. Though previously, commercial real estate-specific degrees and certifications were not as widely available, such programs have grown in popularity in recent years. Now, more young professionals are entering the job market with a formal commercial real estate education.
“Having a formal education in commercial real estate is an opportunity and advantage for anyone interested in a CRE career,” says Thomas Sherlock, a principal at Talonvest Capital. “For many individuals, that formal education provides the opportunity to start a career with a greater understanding of important fundamental factors in a variety of the industry’s interconnected specialties.”
At the same time, many established professionals are earning commercial real estate certifications while working within the field.
Catherine Hughey is a student at Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University, studying for a Master of Science in Real Estate and currently taking two in-person evening classes. She is also the JLL general manager of the new state-of-the-art 800 Fulton, a 473,000-square-foot office building in Fulton Market in Chicago. A lifelong learner, Hughey is a 2018 alumna of Project REAP – Chicago and is a licensed real estate broker in Illinois and Wisconsin. She is a member of the JLL Midwest PM Diversity and Inclusion Committee and serves on the BOMA/Chicago Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
“You can’t lose,” Hughey said. “The Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate gives you all the tools you need to win, and all the instructors make the classes interesting.”
To meet the career aspirations of people like Hughey, there are a variety of respected programs offered by colleges, universities and organizations that offer courses, real- life experience, applied knowledge, problem solving, group projects and internship opportunities. To say nothing of the intangible benefits, such as mentoring and networking. For example, Chloe Asnes, who is a member of the class of 2022 at George Washington University School of Business, which offers an undergraduate concentration in real estate, notes that the GW real estate community is large and active. “We are very fortunate to have engaged alumni who mentor students, help us expand our networks and provide us with technical training and interview prep,” she says.
Bestowing various degrees and certifications, these programs train future industry leaders for the opportunities and challenges of commercial real estate. Angela Han, director of Asset Management at Sinobo Group, is studying at Harvard University Graduate School of Design in its Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate. She says the program is very practical and discusses more than just the technology in buildings at a high level. “The program introduced the different standards that buildings can seek, LEED, WELL, etc., but also gave insight into the cost/benefit of which of these to pursue depending on the project you are working on. It also discussed the technological and practical overlap of different standards—some have more similarity, while others are very different. And the group discussion challenged us to think about the pros and cons of the different standards for our different projects.
There are other avenues available to students that may not want to study for a university degree. The CCIM designation, offered by CCIM Institute, for instance, is a rigorous program of advanced coursework and training in financial and market analysis. To earn the designation, students must take classes, submit a portfolio of qualifying experience for approval by a dedicated committee and pass a full-day exam. “One of the biggest advantages of a CCIM Institute education is that all courses are taught by instructors who are CRE practitioners,” says Karl Landreneau, who is a CCIM Institute senior instructor. “The instructors are certified and trained, required to attend two adult education courses annually, and are also graded by their students.”
Another example is Project REAP, a diversity initiative serving the commercial real estate industry that also offers an 8-to-10-week continuing education program that covers the basics of real estate asset classes and its various functional disciplines including finance, leasing, property management, investment, brokerage and development.