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Top Advice for a Freshman Considering a Career in Commercial Real Estate

So, you start your first year, or freshman year here in the U.S. You don’t know much about commercial real estate, but you feel like it could be an interesting career path. What do you start to do to learn more about the CRE industry? And how can you take the next steps to get ahead? 

Our team did a survey of Undergraduate and Graduate Commercial Real Estate students from across North America, and we asked them the question: “If you were to provide advice to an incoming freshman considering a career in real estate, what is the most important thing they should do now to be prepared for their first day of a full-time job?” We wanted to share these results with you so you can take their word and get ahead in your CRE Career. 

Here are the top 3 actions you can take to prepare for your future in Commercial Real Estate.

Note from Spencer and Michael: This post is written by our colleague, Aiden Johnson. Aiden is a summer associate with A.CRE and will be entering his sophomore year at SMU in the Fall. A huge thank you to Aiden for sharing his perspective with the A.CRE community!

Keep Up with the Commercial Real Estate Industry as a Freshman

One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the Commercial Real Estate industry is to start searching. As Tony Robbins says, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” Many of the respondents in the survey said a good place to start is the A.CRE website. It has a glossary of terms, informative podcasts, and blogs that tell you what you need to know! Along with that, YouTube and Tik Tok can provide both an understanding of the industry and role models in the industry. There are so many creators giving out so much FREE information. Being attentive to and consuming the right content will help you on your way to becoming a master in CRE. 

Network, Network, Network

Networking. It’s the thing that every professional advises and what numerous survey responses mentioned. Step outside of your comfort zone and network! By doing this, you will be one step closer to finding an in-person mentor that can help you overcome many of the challenges you will face in the coming years, as well as connect you with individuals who can help you along your career path.

The rewards of a good network are bountiful. Around 85% of jobs are found, in part, due to your network. That is because, according to Matt Youngquist, the president of Career Horizons, 70% of jobs are not even posted publicly! One of the easiest ways to build this extensive real estate network is through your school’s real estate club. They host many events every year for you to learn more about real estate and find your niche. Getting involved with the club will allow you to meet peers within your major and executives at companies who you are looking to work for after graduation.

Start using LinkedIn as a Freshman to expand your Commercial Real Estate Network

Once you attend these events, make sure to follow everyone you meet on LinkedIn so you can follow their career path and reach out for advice or information when needed (here’s a really good podcast episode on using LinkedIn to the fullest). LinkedIn connections also allow you to pick the brains of professionals and learn how to prepare for the world of CRE.

The best way to improve on your connections and learn from professionals is to ask for 15-30 minutes of their time. Send them a cold email or message them on LinkedIn. More likely than not, they’ll be happy to speak with a student wanting to learn more about their profession. Your student email is your golden ticket anywhere because people will be more willing to talk to students who are passionate to learn. 

Once you establish rapport and things go well on the informational interview, try getting coffee or lunch with that person. Make sure you come up with good questions to ask ahead of time and try to get to know them. Not only are you building business connections by doing this, but helpful friendships. If your network of friends is also your network of real estate relationships, you’re always learning more about the industry.

Get Commercial Real Estate Licensing and Training as a Freshman

You may be wondering at this point, “Don’t I go to school to get training and my licensing is my degree?” While a degree is great for basic real estate education and an introduction to the industry, specialized licensing is required for any job that requires hard skills. 

At Adventures in CRE, the biggest thing we hear is that students are not getting the real estate modeling training they need to be successful in the workforce. That is why the Accelerator is so helpful for college students either in undergraduate or graduate school who are trying to get the best job possible after graduation. 

Why compete on the same level as everyone else and go into a job having to learn even more, when you can come out of college looking better than all your peers? During freshman year, you will have the least amount of responsibility on you compared to any other year of college. Why not spend that break doing specialized training to learn the skills you need to be successful in real estate?

If you can do these three things, I promise you success in commercial real estate will come more naturally. You will be the most informed among your peers and you will thrive within the commercial real estate industry.


The advice given to you by our respondents is the same advice you will hear over and over again. By applying it, you will start to set yourself apart early in your career, which will compound into being able to do your job better and setting you apart due to your advanced knowledge and skills. 

About the Author: Aiden Johnson is a summer associate at A.CRE, supporting content creation and university outreach. Prior to A.CRE, Aiden got his California Real Estate Salesperson License to broker and appraise real estate deals. Aiden is currently pursuing a BBA in Finance with a Real Estate Concentration at Southern Methodist University. At SMU, Aiden is an active member in the Folsom Real Estate Club and wants to help his fellow classmates get jobs in CRE. Aiden currently resides in San Diego, CA. Connect with Aiden via Linkedin.