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

Represents the buyer or seller of a residential property. Makes money through commissions and usually works for a larger agency that may give a lot of support like training, advertising, or office perks. As they gain experience, many real estate brokers will attract new business through referrals or name recognition and may choose to form their own agency.

Market office buildings, hotels, apartments, retail space, shopping centers, and industrial buildings.

Sales Associate: Either represent landlord or tenant

Leasing Agent: Lease space for a third party company, an owner or a Real Estate Invested Trust (REIT)

Investment Sales Broker: Represents a real estate investor looking to buy, sell, or finance a real estate asset.

Mortgage-Backed Securities Originators & Rating Agencies: These are lenders or debt-holders who can carry debt on their balance sheets or pool and sell their mortgages to investors.

Real Estate Appraisal: Unbiased third-party that estimates a property's value. Appraisers work for real estate companies, banks or appraisal firms. License required: MAI for residential, commercial, and industrial; SRA for just residential

Property Management, Property Managers: Oversee the daily management of the real estate and its assets; ensure that tenants are happy and tenants are paid-up on rent; oversee the upkeep of buildings and other amenities; make sure that rents are set appropriately based on the market.

Real Estate Advisory/Private Equity: This is where capital is raised and invested through institutional investors or at times, high net-worth individuals. Advisory firms are broken into two areas: property management and acquisitions

Real Estate Investment Banking: These professionals look to operators (developers and owners) who may need capital in order to make a large return. They will also find other ways to make money dealing with MBS, CMO's and CMBS, REIT stock, and bonds.

Development: Physically constructing new or refurbishing existing structures. Oversee entire process (money, investors, architects, government approvals, labor, contractors, timelines, etc.)

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?

Quadrant is an investment management firm who invests in commercial real estate on behalf of institutional investors such as life insurance companies and pension funds. Quadrant currently has over $6 billion of assets under management and is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. I am currently working out of Quadrant's Sydney (Australia) office and am:

  • Responsible for creating and maintaining institutional client and borrower relationships
  • Lead underwriter for the Australian development and transitional loan portfolios
  • Asset Manager for Australian clients’ domestic and international loan portfolios

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

I was hired to join Quadrant during the first semester of my senior year as an Asset Manager. After being on the job for roughly a month, I was asked to work with the Originations team where I underwrote and analyzed potential institutional grade debt financing opportunities. I was responsible for preparing financing investment memoranda for distribution to Quadrant’s investors and presenting financing requests to the CEO, Portfolio Managers, and Head Underwriters during weekly pipeline meetings. I received extensive exposure to office, retail, industrial, and multi-family assets in every major U.S market during my first two years after Colgate. In August of 2015, I was relocated to Quadrant’s Sydney Australia office.

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.

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.

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 e-mail address to view this content.

Employers to know

  • Colgate recruiting
  • DDR Corp.
  • 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
  • DDR
  • 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 Advisor

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.