Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: The post-masters job search: real estate and economic development

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Washington, DC/New York, NY
    Posts
    34

    The post-masters job search: real estate and economic development

    Ideally, I am looking for entry-level positions in the real estate industry either in development/project management, market research and analysis (trends, highest and best use), or consulting. But I am also interested in urban revitalization/economic development consulting in the private sector. My target area is the Northeast or Chicago, with the New York Metro area being my 1st choice. The problem is I am having the most difficult time leveraging my experience and education to get the positions I am interested in.

    I went to a top-ranked HYP Ivy for undergrad. Then went straight to grad school at MIT for my Masters in City Planning. My work experience = internships with big city economic development and planning agencies, a planning consulting firm, a real estate development firm, and the planning and real estate arm of a major university. I developed a strong skill set in economic development planning skills, real estate concept development, and entitlements.

    I keep my eyes peeled for post-graduation work. I have applied for everything that I am interested in and qualified for. I get few callbacks even though I am told that my resume is perfect. Yet I haven't landed a position. What do you suspect I have done wrong, could do better, and should do now? Is anyone else having this problem?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire Seacoast
    Posts
    374
    i believe that unless you happen to apply to a development firm run by planners (like these guys), who is rare, it's hard to convince such employers that your planning degree is going to be valuable to them. also, these planner-run development firms tend to be more "sustainable", meaning that they manage their growth much more carefully than the classic developer, which means they hire less often than a typical developer. i realize that at MIT, an MCP student can take all of the same real estate classes that the real estate students take, but to a developer, i don't think that means nearly as much as a degree that has the words "real estate development" in it. which is so ridiculous. but how do you convince an employer otherwise? i have found that telling people about my coursework doesn't impress them that much, especially developers. the whole concept of graduate preparation for development (outside of an MBA) is still very new to the development world, and most are not yet accustomed to the entrance of planners, etc. entering their workplace.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,920
    The economic development community is small and close-knit. It is hard to break into, especially as most ED organizations are small, often one-person shops. Experience (I know, catch-22) is a significant determining factor in reviewing resumes, as is who you know. No, I do not mean this as in whether you are politically-connected, but how well you are networked in the economic development profession. Although you want to work in the city, you may have better luck finding a position in a more remote location. Look to rural places like Prophetstown, Sterling-Rock Falls, Pontiac, or more distant communities like Rockford, Kankakee, the Quad Cities, or Peoria for opportunities. Get active in the profession, network, and in a couple of years move to a job in Chicago or the vicinity.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    106
    Quote Originally posted by schristmas
    Ideally, I am looking for entry-level positions in the real estate industry either in development/project management, market research and analysis (trends, highest and best use), or consulting. But I am also interested in urban revitalization/economic development consulting in the private sector. My target area is the Northeast or Chicago, with the New York Metro area being my 1st choice. The problem is I am having the most difficult time leveraging my experience and education to get the positions I am interested in.

    I went to a top-ranked HYP Ivy for undergrad. Then went straight to grad school at MIT for my Masters in City Planning. My work experience = internships with big city economic development and planning agencies, a planning consulting firm, a real estate development firm, and the planning and real estate arm of a major university. I developed a strong skill set in economic development planning skills, real estate concept development, and entitlements.

    I keep my eyes peeled for post-graduation work. I have applied for everything that I am interested in and qualified for. I get few callbacks even though I am told that my resume is perfect. Yet I haven't landed a position. What do you suspect I have done wrong, could do better, and should do now? Is anyone else having this problem?
    With that academic background together with a little experience dealing with the entitlements process, I'm surprised you haven't found an entry level position with a major developer. Maybe the problem is you include something stupid on your resume, like test scores or salary demands, that turns off people.

    After I earned an MS in Real Estate from NYU in 2001, I got hired as manager of international development and acquisitions for a real estate investment trust. I did that job from 2002-2005. My boss told me the reason I was called for an interview was I sent him a cover letter and resume through the snail mail - other applicants just e-mailed resumes to the HR address.

    At the end of 2005, I grew tired of development and decided I wanted to do something more analytical. When I saw the job I wanted at a firm that makes investments in publicly traded real estate companies, I sent a hard copy cover letter and resume to the firm's CEO. It worked, I got an inverview, and I got hired.

    I recommend finding out the person in charge of hiring - not an HR person - and sending a cover letter and resume on nice paper to this person through the mail. In the cover letter, make sure you link how your qualifications match the qualifications listed in the job listing. Support this with an example of a task you completed in a previous job.

    I recommend concentrating on financial analysis or investment research jobs instead of development jobs. Your predominantly academic background makes you a more attractive candidate for analysis positions, where academic assignments are relevant experience. Development positions, on the other hand, require real world experience. Your academic background doesn't matter when you're haggling with a contractor, arguing with a union foreman, or pushing a government bureaucrat to grant you a permit. At least in New York, where I work, people prefer the analysis jobs to development jobs. Several people I know, including me, switched out of development. The reasons included development is too stressful, exciting projects these days take at least 5 years to get completed, and financial analysis and investment research is more interesting and pays more.

    If you haven't already, I recommend checking out these job websites:

    http://web.mit.edu/cre/jobs/index.html
    http://www.selectleaders.com/
    http://resa.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=47 (NYU Real Estate Institute job listings)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Washington, DC/New York, NY
    Posts
    34
    Quote Originally posted by jtmnkri
    With that academic background together with a little experience dealing with the entitlements process, I'm surprised you haven't found an entry level position with a major developer. Maybe the problem is you include something stupid on your resume, like test scores or salary demands, that turns off people.

    After I earned an MS in Real Estate from NYU in 2001, I got hired as manager of international development and acquisitions for a real estate investment trust. I did that job from 2002-2005. My boss told me the reason I was called for an interview was I sent him a cover letter and resume through the snail mail - other applicants just e-mailed resumes to the HR address.

    At the end of 2005, I grew tired of development and decided I wanted to do something more analytical. When I saw the job I wanted at a firm that makes investments in publicly traded real estate companies, I sent a hard copy cover letter and resume to the firm's CEO. It worked, I got an inverview, and I got hired.

    I recommend finding out the person in charge of hiring - not an HR person - and sending a cover letter and resume on nice paper to this person through the mail. In the cover letter, make sure you link how your qualifications match the qualifications listed in the job listing. Support this with an example of a task you completed in a previous job.

    I recommend concentrating on financial analysis or investment research jobs instead of development jobs. Your predominantly academic background makes you a more attractive candidate for analysis positions, where academic assignments are relevant experience. Development positions, on the other hand, require real world experience. Your academic background doesn't matter when you're haggling with a contractor, arguing with a union foreman, or pushing a government bureaucrat to grant you a permit. At least in New York, where I work, people prefer the analysis jobs to development jobs. Several people I know, including me, switched out of development. The reasons included development is too stressful, exciting projects these days take at least 5 years to get completed, and financial analysis and investment research is more interesting and pays more.

    If you haven't already, I recommend checking out these job websites:

    http://web.mit.edu/cre/jobs/index.html
    http://www.selectleaders.com/
    http://resa.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=47 (NYU Real Estate Institute job listings)

    Thank you so much for your recommendations; these additional web links will likely prove a great resource. Just so you know, I have never placed test scores or salary-related information on my resume unless specifically requested by the employer. As for optimizing my skill set in the real estate industry, I am very open to market research and analysis, especially the predevelopment/concept development side, as I said before. But I am interested to hear more about why development is so stressful that people are running to their cubicles to crunch numbers. I never thought development was easy but always found the process to be dynamic enough to maintain one's interest.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire Seacoast
    Posts
    374
    jtmnkri:

    i would also be interested in hearing about your experience in analysis vs. development. i am applying for both planning and real estate programs for this coming fall, and currently work as a planning consultant doing entitlement work and site planning. the stress of development DOES concern me; i want to do development, but i'm afraid that i'll finish a real estate degree and only be able to find workaholic jobs. i really know very little about the day-to-day activities at an REIT. could you fill me in? i am a hard worker, but also have other interests besides my employment. like my wife and kid. also, many of the developers i meet are very stressed out. ugh. i would like to think that somehow i will find a firm that is less taxing, but how likely is that? i'd rather make less money and work 40-50 hours a week than have a bigger paycheck at some 60 hour a week place.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    106
    Real estate analysis is an information business.
    Real estate development is a people management business.

    Quote Originally posted by schristmas
    I am interested to hear more about why development is so stressful that people are running to their cubicles to crunch numbers.
    The requirement to stay on schedule and on budget is why real estate development is stressful. Coordinating business partners, lenders, lawyers, engineers, architects, accountants, sales and marketing people, public officials, inspectors, residents groups, contractors, subcontractors, and tenants is stressful too.

    What do you do when you're confident you can get a site rezoned, you buy the land, and the rezoning request is denied?
    What do you do when expensive equipment is stolen from the site and the contractor insists you pay to replace it, or he'll quit the site?
    What do you do when you build according the the plans approved by the building department, and when you're done the fire inspector says you did it wrong?

    Resolving these situations in your favor is the key to being a successful developer.

    Quote Originally posted by The District
    i really know very little about the day-to-day activities at an REIT. could you fill me in? i would like to think that somehow i will find a firm that is less taxing, but how likely is that?
    REITs grow their businesses by acquiring existing properties, developing new ones, or a combination of both. REITs also grow by increasing occupancy and rents in their buildings. So the most important jobs are acquisitions, development, and leasing. If you want to work for a real estate company, REITs are a good place because they have easier access to capital and better management than smaller developers. REITs typically feature 40 hour weeks.

    Most REITs have national operations, so development people spend lots of time far away from the home or regional office. The entitlement phase requires travel in order to coordinate all the participants and attend meetings. The construction period demands a 12 hour day on the site. The project opening phase requires someone to coordinate the tenants and inspectors so the tenants receive the permits they need to open an operate. I worked on a project that required over 1,000 inspections and over 1,000 permits before the tenants could open. It was a retail project, so opening for the Christmas shopping season was crucial. We paid the municipality a lot of $ for overtime and even paid the municipality to hire temporary inspectors.

    On the other hand, as an investment analyst I work independently on intellectually challenging assignments. I spend from 25% of my time traveling around to visit properties, meet company managements, and network with people in the real estate industry. The rest of the time is spent in the office crunching the numbers and convincing my colleagues to act on my investment conclusions.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Washington, DC/New York, NY
    Posts
    34
    Quote Originally posted by jtmnkri
    What do you do when you're confident you can get a site rezoned, you buy the land, and the rezoning request is denied?
    What do you do when expensive equipment is stolen from the site and the contractor insists you pay to replace it, or he'll quit the site?
    What do you do when you build according the the plans approved by the building department, and when you're done the fire inspector says you did it wrong?
    1.) Ply the most influential votes on the zoning board with offers that they cannot refuse and/or make small concessions to any opposing community groups, but only concessions that will keep the IRR at the expected level.

    2.)Split the costs with the contractor or replace the contractor with inexpensive non-union types.

    3.) Find the least expensive way to fix the problem or be proactive instead of reactive - consult with the fire inspector during the construction phase to ensure that there are not any mistakes.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian supergeek1313's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2005
    Location
    City of Angels
    Posts
    107
    Have you tried NYCEDC (NYC Econ Dev Corp)? I interned there last semester and from what it seemed like the Project Manager positions are for those with an MUP/MPA/MRED... so it would seem like you could get the job. And RED is one of their departments, as are Planning and Special Projects which is a lot of economic development. Since it's non-profit/sort-of-govt it may not pay as much as you'd like. I don't know what the salaries are.

    Also, why did you have to note "HYP" along with Ivy? Do you think less of us who went to the "bottom 5"?

  10. #10
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2006
    Location
    I'm not sure where I am...or where I want to be
    Posts
    543
    Quote Originally posted by The District
    i believe that unless you happen to apply to a development firm run by planners, who is rare, it's hard to convince such employers that your planning degree is going to be valuable to them.
    I agree. Most people who work for developers have degrees in Finance.
    Can you sign up for one Graduate Finance class now, so when you interview you can tell them you're working on developing a speciality in development finance and feasibility.

    Quote Originally posted by jtmnkri
    What do you do when you're confident you can get a site rezoned, you buy the land, and the rezoning request is denied?
    Purchase of land is contingent on rezoning; developers rarely, if ever, buy unzoned land without a contingency that the sale does not go through if the rezoning is not granted. They just option the property and finalize the sale after the rezoning is granted.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 17 Feb 2006 at 9:48 AM. Reason: double reply. Please consolidate multiple replies in a SINGLE post.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Washington, DC/New York, NY
    Posts
    34
    Quote Originally posted by supergeek1313
    Have you tried NYCEDC (NYC Econ Dev Corp)? I interned there last semester and from what it seemed like the Project Manager positions are for those with an MUP/MPA/MRED... so it would seem like you could get the job. And RED is one of their departments, as are Planning and Special Projects which is a lot of economic development. Since it's non-profit/sort-of-govt it may not pay as much as you'd like. I don't know what the salaries are.

    Also, why did you have to note "HYP" along with Ivy? Do you think less of us who went to the "bottom 5"?
    I actually interned at NYCEDC in the summer of 2003 and applied for summer internships there last year. It would be my pleasure to work there again, if I were given the chance.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Posts
    401
    You are aware that an analyst's job is going to be 90% excel? Do you want to sit in front of a computer fifty or more hours a week punching away at an excel spreadsheet? For weeks and months and years on end? It really is a very unglamorous aspect of real estate.

    A possibility is to try to join a non-profit affordable housing foundation or neighborhood development corporation. Several of my professors at Penn have emphasized one of the best ways for a planner to get into real estate development is to start out working in the planning office of a large urban city, and after some years of experience and making connections, lateral yourself into a development firm or even start your own company. You will make decent money, not as much as your classmates who are now lawyers or doctors, but enough to get by and enjoy life, and more importantly, being in the public sector will allow you to gain more first hand experience with the actual development process from earlier on.

    The man who is the president of Toll Brothers, the nation's leading luxury (ok, McMansion) homes, was originally a planner for the City of Philadelphia.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. NYU masters in real estate
    Student Commons
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 14 Sep 2011, 12:18 AM
  2. Replies: 4
    Last post: 22 Sep 2008, 9:10 AM
  3. Replies: 9
    Last post: 17 Sep 2008, 10:06 PM
  4. Replies: 9
    Last post: 26 Sep 2005, 7:53 PM