Are you enterprising and goal-driven by nature? Do you enjoy interacting with colleagues and potential clients? You may want to consider exploring careers in the real estate industry.

Employing more than five million people, the real estate industry encompasses a broad range of sub-industries that look for different qualities and skills from possible employees. At its most basic, real estate is land, any buildings/structures that are located on it, the ground below, and the air above. The fact that land can be owned by individuals, corporations, or the government means that many people need to facilitate the ownership and/or transferring (selling/buying) of the property and its assets.

Robert Magel ’18 wearing a white hard hat
Robert Magel ’18 interns at RREAF Holdings

Explore Careers

Commercial Real Estate (“CRE”) is composed of office buildings, apartments, warehouses, hotels, shopping centers, and student housing buildings. CRE is a multi-trillion-dollar global industry with players of all sizes from a single investor to institutional investors of all kinds that operate on a global scale in major cities throughout the world. The industry provides a wide range of rewarding career paths for liberal arts students. Furthermore, the fundamental skills that one learns in the first several years on the job are highly portable, i.e. provide for significant geographic flexibility and across roles within the industry. Entry-level roles are best categorized within key industry groups, as follows:

  • Investors are those who invest their money in real estate as an owner of the property (“equity investor”) or a lender whose investment is secured by the property (“debt investor”). Investment managers often have extensive, well-run entry-level programs. REITs and Property Companies typically hire fewer entry-level real estate professionals. Of the Investors, Insurance Companies hire the least but can offer amongst the most material experience. Successful investors are critical thinkers and prudent risk-takers who can be both patient and decisive.
    • Insurance Companies these companies are amongst the most prominent and dominant investors and typically have very significant pools of capital that they invest as lenders and often as equity investors. Insurance companies tend to focus on large, high-quality properties located in major metro areas. Many US insurance companies also have significant international investing programs. Firms such as Metropolitan Life, NY Life, Northwestern Mutual invest around the country and provide entry-level roles.
    • Sovereign Wealth and Pension Funds tend to have large and often growing pools of capital and tend to allocate a large percentage of that capital to real estate. Historically they preferred equity but recently have allocated more towards debt. Like insurance companies, they tend to focus on higher-end institutional property investments. Examples of these are CalPERS, CPPIB, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, Future Fund of Australia, and the Government of Singapore.
    • REITs and Property Companies are publicly traded companies that raise capital via the stock market to invest in real estate. Some will focus on a specific property type (such as office or retail) while others diversify by property type, location, and investment strategy. Examples: Brookfield Properties, Blackstone, Starwood Property Trust, Vornado Realty, Avalon Bay, Equity Residential.
    • Investment Managers are generally firms that raise capital in the private markets from Institutional Investors and high net worth individuals and then invest in properties. This is in contrast with REITS and Property Companies which raise money in the public markets. In a sense, they are intermediaries who are investing capital on behalf of others and investing into property with an ongoing management role. It is a geographically ubiquitous role with companies that range from large to small and can be very specialized in investment style or expertise. Some of the larger investment managers are Blackstone, CBRE, Invesco, AEW, LaSalle. Mid and smaller sized firms include PCCP, AWH, RedGate, Castellan, Maverick, SL Green 
    • Commercial Banks are very significant investors in real estate, particularly as lenders on both new construction and existing properties.  Due to the nature of commercial bank capital (deposits that can be quickly withdrawn i.e. “disintermediated”) banks typically lend on a short term (3-to- 5 years and floating rate). In addition, some commercial banks make longer-term loans on well-leased properties with the intention of contributing such loans to securitizations (similar to Investment Banks, below). Large money center commercial banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and CIBC can offer excellent internship and entry-level positions.
    • Investment Banks tend to be the largest and most active players in the Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities market. Such firms as Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs lend in large volumes and securitize such loans. In addition, investment banks often have a range of other investment activities including both debt and equity. Investment banks have very competitive internship and entry-level programs which are typically fast-paced and intensive. 
  • Intermediaries or Brokers are hired by owners or occupiers to best navigate the market and execute the necessary transaction. Quality brokerage firms come in a range of sizes and geographic focus – large ones have footprints in all major metros, on the other hand, many cities have small firms that are best in class in that specific market.  Successful people in this field have strong interpersonal and sales skills. They are diligent and organized. Examples of firms: JLL, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, B6
    • Equity Sales – representing buyers or sellers of property. Nationally: Eastdil Secured, JLL, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Newmark, Berkadia, Northmarq, Avison Young. Regional: B6 (New York City).
    • Debt Placement – representing borrowers or lenders on loans used to finance real estate and where the real estate is the collateral. Nationally: Eastdil Secured, JLL, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Newmark, Walker Dunlop, Berkadia, Northmarq, Bellweather, Draper & Kramer, Avison Young. Regional: B6 (NYC), Singer Basic (New York City), Philips Realty (Washington DC), Q10 (Seattle).
    • Landlord Representation – representing the owner of a building or property in order to get space leased and drive revenue. Nationally: JLL, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield. Regionally: many “mom and pop” firms will specialize in one market or property owners will have in-house leasing. 
    • Tenant Representation – representing the occupier of space (the tenant) in order to find the best space for them at the best cost, Nationally: Nationally: JLL, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Savills. Regionally: many “mom and pop” firms will specialize in one market.
  • Developers Are aptly named in that they focus on the development of new properties which can be developing for their own account or to be hired by a third party to build on their behalf. Development tends to be very cyclical and high-risk high reward. Some firms are focused on development but have branched into property management (e.g. Silverstein) while others are very focused on development. They work closely with the construction industry and with property owners to get the best product built on the site. Entry-level jobs in development are rare outside of construction and project management. Developers often hire experienced people from the other industry participants described above. Thus, a good path to a senior role in development is to build one’s skills and experience with an Investment Manager, Broker, REIT, or Institutional Investor.  Those successful in development are creative and work well leading teams. They must be well organized and able to keep to a schedule and a budget.
  • Professional Service Providers are career fields in their own right, but there are many professionals in these fields that specialize in real estate or work closely and constantly with real estate professionals. These disciplines are vital to all elements of real estate development and investing. There are roles not only with specialist firms, but many larger CRE firms also have in-house experts in the below fields.
    • Legal
    • Architecture
    • Engineering
    • Environmental
    • Appraisal
    • Urban Planning
    • Healthcare

The Commercial Real Estate Industry encompasses a vast number of companies, jobs, and geographies. In many of these, the core skills learned in the first few years are valuable and applicable across the breadth of the Industry. Those who are successful in Commercial Real Estate tend to be organized, hard-working, and gregarious. There are many Colgate alumni who have great careers in this sector and there is an active industry-specific alumni group (the Colgate Real Estate Council). The on-campus student-led Real Estate Club is also growing its presence and programming to prepare students for a job hunt, and ultimately a career, in Commercial Real Estate.

Prepare for Jobs and Internships

Information, tips, and strategies to help prepare you as an undergraduate.

There are many ways to get introduced to the real estate industry. Be aware that most real estate companies do not formally recruit or participate in job fairs, so networking and being proactive is paramount.

Education is important, but real estate firms look for people with certain skills or attributes that go beyond the classroom. Being social is really important and many people will prove this by maintaining large networks not only for possible leads within the business, but to show that they can attract and manage many relationships. In addition to this "soft skill", showing that you have quantitative abilities will be most desired. These are two areas that real estate firms can't or won't train new hires.

Be familiar with these terms and use them in application materials and networking conversations.

  • REIT: Real Estate Investment Trust – any corporation, trust, or association that acts as an investment agent specializing in real estate and real estate mortgages under IRS code section 856
  • CMBS: Commercial mortgage-backed securities
  • MBS: Mortgage-backed Securities – repackaged residential mortgages
  • CMO's: Collateralized mortgage obligation
  • GLA: Gross Living Area
  • - a glossary of real estate terms

Knowledge of industry news can give you a sense of the culture and make you a better interview candidate.

For more current facts and trends in the Real Estate Industry, see Real Estate: Facts and Trends.

These organizations can be great places to make connections and learn more about the field and search openings. Many have discounted student memberships.

Of course, many successful people within the real estate industry also hold advanced degrees (primarily an MBA or JD).

For some roles, licenses will be required:

  • Residential Real Estate Brokers – done by each state
  • Commercial Real Estate Brokers – license a sponsoring broker

Alumni Advice

Advice from alumni who work in this industry.

headshot of Evan Goldszak ’13

Evan Goldszak ’13

Current Title and Organization: Vice President, Quadrant Real Estate Advisors

Major at Colgate: Mathematical Economics

What do you currently do?

Currently, I work for Prime Group out of Chicago. Prime is a multi-faceted asset management firm that focuses on debt and equity real estate investments in both the public and private sectors. Prime invests across the United States and has offices in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

At Prime, I work on the Special Situations team and am responsible for underwriting and closing new
investment opportunities. Our investment thesis focuses on originating high-yield loans, acquiring non-performing and sub-performing commercial real estate debt, and providing rescue and runway capital in distressed and dislocated scenarios. We have fully discretionary capital in a close-ended fund and are investing in a broad range of property types including office, residential, hospitality, industrial, retail, and student housing. 

Previously, I worked for Round Hill Capital, an international real estate private equity firm
headquartered in London, England with offices across Europe and the United States. Round Hill invests discretionary capital along various institutional partners, with an investment thesis specializing in multi-family residential, purpose-built student accommodation, and industrial. Round Hill also invests selectively in early-stage PropTech start-ups and alternative accommodations, including hostels, co-living, modular housing, and senior living.

At Round Hill, I worked within the Portfolio Management team and I was responsible for executing asset business plans. This included detailed financial analysis pre-acquisition, negotiating financing packages with lenders, implementing asset management strategies and property/portfolio dispositions once business plans are solidified.

Prior to Round Hill, I was employed by Quadrant Real Estate Advisors. Quadrant is an investment
management firm that invests in commercial real estate on behalf of institutional partners such as life
insurance companies and pension funds. Quadrant is headquartered in Atlanta, GA, and provides
commercial real estate financing across the US, United Kingdom, and Ireland. Quadrant is led by
founding partner and CEO, Kurt Wright (Colgate, ’81).

While at Quadrant, I was responsible for origination, execution, and asset management and spent
roughly six years working out of Quadrant's Atlanta, Sydney (Australia), and London (UK) offices. I assisted Quadrant with investments across multiple international jurisdictions and various capital structures including senior, mezzanine, and development loans.

What was your first position out of Colgate and what did you do in that role?

I was hired by Quadrant during the first semester of my senior year. My main responsibilities included
underwriting potential institutional-grade debt financing opportunities, which involved cash flow,
market, and tenant analysis across all asset classes throughout the US. I was responsible for preparing
investment memorandums for distribution to Quadrant’s investors and presenting financing requests to the CEO, Portfolio Managers, and Underwriters during weekly pipeline meetings. In August of 2015, I moved to the Quadrant office in Sydney and was subsequently relocated in mid-2017 to London.

How can students prepare themselves while at Colgate to work in your field?

  1. Network with alumni: as you may be aware, there are many different sectors to potentially work in within commercial real estate. You can get a job after Colgate working for companies that specialize in buying real estate, lending on real estate, brokering real estate transactions, property managing individual assets, etc. The list goes on and I believe connecting with alumni is a great way to truly understand what takes place within these specialized sectors. Building a network of alumni could also potentially lead to future internships and job opportunities
  2. Internships: on-the-job training is one of the most efficient ways to understand any line of business. Scrolling through Google and reading books can only provide so much insight into an industry. Summer internships will give you a great idea of the day-to-day one can expect if they accept a job within the specific sector of commercial real estate. You will learn the language and gain a foundation which you will be able to leverage during the interview process.
  3. Supplementary Education: I cannot speak highly enough about
    the education I received while at Colgate. I thoroughly believe the skills I gained in the classroom taught me to be a blank slate when I entered the “real world,” ready to absorb the industry-specific training required by any employer. With that said, I believe you can further differentiate from other candidates by being proactive and taking the initiative to educate yourself on industry-related topics that might not be taught by a liberal arts institution. Designations including Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) will offer a foundation in real estate and investment management. Keeping up to speed on current events within the industry by reading The WSJ, GlobeStreet, and Commercial Mortgage Alert will also help establish a strong understanding of active real estate firms and market terminology.


What extracurricular activities, associated with your profession or not, were you involved with while at Colgate?

I played on the Varsity Football team and was a member of Delta Upsilon. This took up most of my time outside the classroom but taught me many life lessons which are not written on whiteboards or read in books.

Laura Denenga Headshot

Laura Denenga

Current Title and Organization: Senior Loan Originator, Allianz Real Estate

Major at Colgate: Economics 

What do you currently do? 

I work for Allianz Real Estate, the dedicated investment and asset manager of commercial real estate within the Allianz Group. Allianz Real Estate has €71B of  assets under management across direct and indirect equity globally and commercial  real estate loans in the U.S. and Europe. I work as a senior loan originator in the  London office. My day to day responsibilities include: 

  • Managing client relationships of borrowing companies, brokers  (intermediaries) and other potential lending partners including banks or  insurance companies; and  
  • Underwriting and executing loans on high quality offices, logistics, and  multifamily buildings or portfolios across Europe. For each transaction, I am responsible for either performing or overseeing the detailed property analysis, market research, preparation of financial cash flow projections, and the negotiation of the loan documentation.  

Since joining Allianz last year, I have worked on the financing of an office development in the Netherlands, and an office investment portfolio refinancing in  London both with loan sizes of €200mn.  

What was your first position out of Colgate and what did you do in that role?

My first position out of Colgate was as a loan asset manager for Quadrant Real Estate  Advisors – an investment management firm based in Atlanta. As a loan asset manager,  I was responsible for a portfolio of 40+ loans which varied greatly from a $2.5m loan on a grocery anchored shopping centre to $85 million loan on an office in Boston. It  was my role to be the expert on these loans and the underlying properties and submarkets. I was tasked with: 

  • Evaluating the properties’ performances on an annual basis, monitoring any  adverse changes in either their occupation levels, operating revenue or  underlying market conditions where the property was located; 
  • ensuring borrowing companies were compliant with all of the conditions we  agreed upon in the loans documents and that monthly interest payments were  received on time; and
  • processing approvals of any request made by borrowing companies including  approval of lease agreements with a new tenant or approvals to modify the  existing buildings, for example.

How can students prepare themselves while at Colgate to work in your field? 

  1. Pursue Commercial Real Estate in your regular course work: Colgate offers students an incredible and rare opportunity to pursue independent study courses as part of their degree. Why not design an independent study with a focus on a commercial real estate topic? You could also find real estate angles in offered courses. For example, if you are an Economics major perhaps you can pick real estate related topics for your econometrics research or for your senior thesis. Another idea would be to apply to be a summer research fellow and focus your research on commercial real estate related topics. All of these courses would go a long way to bolster your knowledge and resume.  
  2. Online Training: Enroll in online training platforms including the Urban Land  Institute’s Foundations of Real Estate (FoRE) curriculum that is targeted to undergraduate students at liberal arts universities. FoRE is self-paced course that offers a comprehensive introduction to the field of real estate over 30  hours. [FoRE is available for Colgate Students for free through the career  services office]. As with any relevant school coursework, supplementary online training certificates would go along to set your resume apart.  
  3. On-Campus Clubs and Activities: Join the Colgate Real Estate Club which organizes various events throughout the year that can help build your foundations and knowledge of commercial real estate as well as networking and post-graduate opportunities. The Club hosts information sessions, financial analysis training, case competitions, and is a great platform to connect with other alumni. The club also organizes an annual Real Estate Immersion trip in  New York.  
  4. Network with alumni: The Colgate network is an invaluable resource at your disposal. Colgate graduates are working in all areas and sectors of commercial real estate whether it be investment, development, finance, law, brokerage, and growing areas like sustainability and technology! Alumni are a great source of knowledge so reach out to the career services office to arrange an informational interview with alumni in your area of interest or across a variety of interests to help you narrow down a particular field that might appeal to you the most. In the long run, alumni can also be the connection that directly or indirectly helps you secure your first internship or full-time position.  
  5. Internships: As a previous alumni mentioned, on-the-job training is an  essential way to gain a deeper understanding of a specific sector and garner  critical skills that employers are looking for and could ultimately lead to a full  time position post-graduation. The Colgate network and career services is a  fantastic avenue for securing those valuable internship. However, at the same  time, proactively seek internships and apply directly with major real estate  companies and then supplement your knowledge of the firm and your  application with a Colgate connection, if possible. Tip: follow the top 50  players on LinkedIn! Not only will this help you keep up to date with market  trends but you will also be the first to hear about open internship positions that  are often advertised on the social media platform.  

What extracurricular activities, associated with your profession or not, were you  involved with while at Colgate? 

I played on the varsity field hockey team, club squash team, was a member of Gamma  Phi Beta and was also a campus tour guide. Through athletics I learned to manage my time well, work as a team and develop a strong mental resiliency and work ethic to  achieve a goal. Tour guiding and Greek Life helped me garner those interpersonal and  communication skills that have been equally important on the job. I would therefore strongly encourage extracurricular activities outside of your class work as it helps to  make you a more well-rounded candidate which is valuable for many employers in  commercial real estate

Chad Cooley ’00, co-founder and managing partner, AWH Partners; Laura Denenga ’11, senior manager, Allianz Real Estate; Charlotte Redican ’19, associate, Cushman & Wakefield

Find Opportunities

Entry-level jobs will start to pop-up late in the first semester and will continue throughout the second semester. If you're serious, you should be ready to go by late fall and be prepared to job search from that point moving forward. Internships will start to be posted in the late fall as well and will run through to the second semester. The fact of the matter is, the best way to find an internship or an entry-level job is to network. It's tough for an "outsider" to get in, even if you are responding to a posted position. Fortunately, Colgate has a lot of alumni in this field who are willing to help.

Visit for information about companies and careers. The site provides the industry context needed to identify your best job opportunities. Use the Research Companies tab to browse popular industries, or search for key terms using the search bar. You will need to create an account using your Colgate email address to view this content.

Employers to know

  • Colgate recruiting
  • CBRE, Inc.
  • Quadrant Real Estate Advisors LLC
  • Gilbane Building Company

Some New York real estate developing companies

  • Boston Properties
  • The Durst Organization
  • Related Companies
  • TF Cornerstone
  • Fisher Brothers

Commercial real estate

  • Colliers International
  • Grubb & Ellis
  • Coldwell Banker Commercial
  • NAI Global
  • Cresa Partners
  • CBRE
  • Cushman & Wakefield
  • Jones Lang LaSalle
  • Quadrant Real Estate Advisors

Colgate Handshake Opportunities

Check Colgate Handshake, Colgate's internship and job database, for opportunities that may interest you in this field.

Connect to Careers

Latest stories about internships, workshops, professional networks, and more.

Real Estate Adviser

Associate Director of Career Development

David began working in the Center for Career Services in September 2001 after a short stint in the Office of the Dean of the College.

Before working at Colgate, David and his wife Darcie ’98 lived in the greater Washington DC area where he worked in sales. A native of Hamilton, David graduated from Hamilton Central School in 1994. In 1998, he graduated with a BA degree from St. Michael’s College. A former student-athlete, David enjoys following the Raiders and getting to know Colgate's student-athletes on and off the field, rink, or court.

Questions? Call 315-228-7380 for an advising appointment.