Florida International University (FIU) real estate students are often so caught up with classes and jobs that pondering the many career options within their industry often ends up on the back burner. But that changed at an event last fall, when professionals from nearly every nook and cranny of the real estate sector braved a driving rainstorm to participate in a round table networking event at FIU’s College of Business Complex. The event brought together FIU students, Hollo School of Real Estate faculty, and top professionals from across the spectrum of real estate fields, including several commercial real estate associations.
“The goal was to make students aware that there are many different professions within the real estate field, and many real estate trade organizations that can support their professional growth,” said Eileen Cardelle, admissions and operations manager for the Master of Science in International Real Estate and an adjunct professor at the Hollo School. Cardelle also serves as faculty adviser to the Real Estate Student Association (RESA) at FIU, which co-sponsored the event with the Jerome Bain Real Estate Institute.
On hand to lend their expertise at the September 26, 2016 event were leaders from a full complement of real estate and related professions, including corporate real estate, development, design, construction, leasing and sales, investment practitioners, brokers, property and asset managers, surveyors and industrial real estate practitioners. William Hardin, director of the Hollo School of Real Estate, and professors George Wu and Paul Black joined students at the event.
The professional groups visit FIU each year, but this year’s event featured a twist designed to maximize networking. Instead of the panel format, students had ten minutes to meet with each representative at his or her round table before moving on to the next.
Cardelle sees student engagement in professional and trade organizations as an important first step in their careers. “The majority (of trade associations) have student membership opportunities,” Cardelle said, adding that along with reduced or no membership fee, students can attend the groups’ events. “It encourages them to get out and get involved, and get on committees which lead to internships, employment or business development.”
A light dinner helped draw student attendees at the end of the workday, and, said Cardelle, despite the bad weather, 92 people showed up, including every speaker representative who had registered for the event.
For Gabriel Amedee, vice president of RESA at FIU who is working on his bachelor’s in real estate, the highlight was rekindling relationships with those he’d encountered at other RESA events. “Sometimes you meet people who are really making a mark in the industry but you are hesitant to reach out to them because you know how busy they must be,” he said.
Touching base in person inspires the confidence to later contact them for counsel or advice, added Amedee, who expects to graduate in 2017, then pursue his MSIRE at FIU, while continuing to build his own company, Gold Homes LLC.
For speaker representatives, it was a chance to give back, connect with possible future employees, and network with their own South Florida industry peers. The speakers hope to meet as a group before the event next year.
“As a trade organization, the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) is committed to supporting higher education in real estate,” said Rod L. Castan, president, Leasing and Management Services at the Courtelis Company, a retail, multifamily development firm, and retail property leasing firm. He is also the past Southern Division operations chairman and Florida state director of the ICSC.
“What I like about FIU students is that they are very entrepreneurial, willing to try new things and take risks. That mentality will serve them well in real estate,” he said. He should know. Castan is an FIU alumnus, having earned his BS in finance in 1985. “I got into real estate through an internship I found at the FIU placement office,” he said.
What also keeps Castan returning is the outreach from the Hollo School faculty and staff. “They do a great job of keeping things current and connecting with us in the industry,” he said. “They have made a strong commitment to engage with the real estate industry.”
Cardelle said that as much fun as the event was, the key for the students is in following up. That message seems to have gotten through. Castan said that in the days following the event, he had already heard from several student attendees.
Round table speakers:
- Maria Juncadella, Miami Association of Realtors Realtors Commercial Alliance
- J.R. Steinbauer, Society of Industrial & Office Realtors
- Viola Sanchez, Institute of Real Estate Management
- Britt J. Rosen, Certified Commercial Investment Members
- Juan Gallardo, CoreNet
- John Cirincione and Carmel Haynes, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
- Adolfo Yanes, Urban Land Institute
- Marti Mang, Commercial Real Estate Women
- Sebastian Juncadella, Commercial Industrial Association of South Florida
- Rod Castan, International Council of Shopping Centers
- Michelle Gonzalez, FIU’s Real Estate Affinity Alumni Association
- Daniel Sotolongo, Real Estate Student Association (RESA) at FIU
The next networking opportunity for FIU real estate students, CREWU, sponsored by the Commercial Real Estate Women, will take place on February 6, 2017. For more information, contact Eileen Cardelle, (305) 779-7898.