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Preparing Students to Transition from the Dorm Room to the Board Room

April 17, 2017 | Nancye Kirk

What is the role of colleges and universities in preparing students to enter the workforce? Should students graduating from real estate programs be job-ready? How can professional real estate associations assist in bridging the gap from the world of academia to the world of work?

These were some of the questions posed by David Funk, PhD, Associate Professor of Real Estate at Roosevelt University in Chicago, at a recent panel discussion he moderated at the 2017 American Real Estate Society Annual Meeting. The panel included representatives of IREM, CoreNet, the Appraisal Institute, CRE, and RICs.

There has been some research to suggest that graduating students are falling short on the job-readiness scale. A 2014 survey by the Gallup organization asked this question of business leaders and chief academic officers: “Do you believe academic programs are preparing graduates for jobs?” Those in higher education responded with an emphatic “yes,” with 96% saying that their graduates are prepared for jobs. Their counterparts in industry? Only 11% of business leaders answered “yes” to this question.

Speaking specifically of the real estate industry, one of the panelists noted that employers tend to find lacking those skills that cross across all academic majors. Among the skills frequently mentioned are critical thinking and problem solving, the ability to make decisions, and communication (both oral and written). The lack of strong work habits (e.g. punctuality, meeting deadlines) and general unfamiliarity with workplace norms also has been cited by employers.

The ARES panel agreed that associations can play a role in supporting graduates’ transition from higher education to the workplace. Especially effective ways for preparing students to be successful in real estate jobs are internships, job shadowing, and apprenticeships, as well as applied learning projects in the classroom. These types of programs – programs that associations can have a role in coordinating – can go far toward ensuring a positive transition into industry. They can help make students more aware of what it looks like to be a property manager or an appraiser or to work in corporate real estate or on an asset management team.

The panel discussion took place in San Diego at the recent ARES Conference. ARES – the American Real Estate Society – is an organization of real estate thought leaders that draws its members from academia and the profession at large.

About the Author
Nancye Kirk, in her role as IREM’s chief strategy officer, supports real estate management businesses, helping them address the big issues with which they are wrestling – issues related to business strategy and growth, talent management, and best practices. 

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