, ,

How I Landed my First Job in CRE: Unlocking the Power of Networking and Determination – Episode 2

As recruiting in the industry becomes increasingly competitive, we wanted to help those of our readers aiming to land their first job in commercial real estate. In this new series, we’ll interview recent college students who landed their first job in the current CRE job market. While securing your first commercial real estate job can be difficult, we hope that by listening to these undergraduate and graduate real estate students who have been successful you can develop your own winning strategy to accomplish your goal.

In this second episode, Tucker speaks with Nicolle Lee. “The reason I wanted to come on this podcast was to share some of the ways that I’ve been able to successfully break into commercial real estate,” said Nicolle. With a background that reflects her journey from an introverted undergraduate at Columbia University to a real estate consultant with a top firm, Nicolle’s story is an inspiring example of how one can navigate the complex landscape of the industry.

Watch the Interview with Nicolle Lee

Networking: The Game Changer for Landing that CRE Job

Nicolle’s strategy? Network, network, network. Cold calls, emails that don’t sound like robots wrote them, dropping a casual message on LinkedIn – that’s the playbook. Imagine sliding into someone’s DMs with a “Your career rocks! Mind if we chat for 15?” Invites started flooding in. These invites? They’re like the golden tickets to a CRE job. Networking – it’s like making friends, but with a career twist.

Leveraging Education and Seizing Opportunities

Here’s Nicolle’s curveball move: she weaponized her education. Having graduated from both Columbia and Wharton, she cracked the code on tapping into the alumni networks. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Reaching out to alums is like diving into a treasure trove of wisdom and insider hacks.

In addition, Nicolle took on as many case competitions as she could, mingled at CRE meetups, and owned the scene at real estate happy hours. Also getting involved with the community through CRE boards is a great way to make new opportunities.

job in cre

Mastering the Technical Skills

Now, let’s talk tech. Nicolle gives advice on the skills you need to have in your arsenal. Developing and maintaining complex financial models, being able to perform financial analysis, and evaluating investments through Excel are a baseline for a lot of CRE jobs. While you’ll sharpen these skills on the job, having a basic grasp before you dive in is a good way to get your foot in the door. The Accelerator is a great way to accomplish that exact goal.

Networking Also Builds Interviewing Skills

In order to get to that interview step, you must constantly put yourself out there by networking. Networking also will help you develop better communication skills, increasing your ability to interview well. If an employer is not emailing back, following up and saying, “I’m still interested in this job” and being front-footed about what you really want can help.

Know What You Want

Being as specific and prescriptive as you possibly can be is extremely important. It says you have a vision and you’re not afraid to verbalize what your goals are coming out of a program.


Nicolle Lee’s journey is a great roadmap to conquering the CRE job market. From introvert to networking sensation, she proves that anyone can successfully break into commercial real estate. It’s about hustling, seizing opportunities, and having a blast. Remember to stay open-minded and have fun.

In the end, our goal at Adventures in CRE is to give you the needed materials to secure the job you want successfully. Whether that is real estate financial modeling training, career advice, a list of 2,000+ real estate companies, access to the companies we work with, or insider tips from people like Nicolle Lee, we do our best to offer it all.

About the Author: Tucker is the Head of Training and Career Services at A.CRE where he works with universities, companies, and candidates to provide training and job placement. Prior to A.CRE, Tucker spent two years at the 9th largest executive recruitment firm, where he focused on recruiting top talent in Commercial Real Estate. Tucker holds a BBA in Real Estate Finance from Southern Methodist University. While at SMU, Tucker was President of the Real Estate Club and was instrumental in providing guidance and connecting students with careers in CRE. Tucker currently resides in Dallas, TX. Please email Tucker if you would like to talk.