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Thread: Real Estate project management w/ a planning-related degree?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Real Estate project management w/ a planning-related degree?

    Hi everyone,


    Here is my situation. I'm about to graduate with an MA in Regional Economic and Social Development from UMass-Lowell. Basically, it's a quite similar to planning, with a focus on the specific needs and requirements of economic development and an emphasis on sustainability.

    For the last 11 months, I've been interning at a community development corporation and learning the ropes of project management, by shadowing the Real Estate director, completing funding applications, examining proformas, etc.. as well as working on grantwriting with the organization's fundraising director. As the organization is a mission-driven nonprofit, a lot of community organizing goes on, and I've done a lot of that as well.

    That said, now that graduation is approaching, I've started interviewing for project management positions at a few CDCs in Boston. The impression that I am getting is that despite the experience I have, I don't have a background in finance, and I am wondering if that is a liability. It's always tough to break into a field, and these nonprofits operate on a very tight margin... they have to in order to survive. They want to bring new blood into the field, but they need experienced people in order to put deals together.

    How can I get my chops up? Should I go to work for a planning department instead, and maybe see about entering the development world after a few years? Or am I just overanalyzing the situation?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Any thoughts from anyone?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I'm a bit confused as to the position you are seeking, as well as what you mean by project managerment. Handling financial transactions is generally limited to larger stakeholders in the development process, and project management invariably falls upon planning and development firms who handle project approvals and such. So I guess what I'm saying is that few consultants deal with the financial aspects of a project. You might wish to head for more of the real estate/investment career tract and I would think a degree in this area would be quite helpful.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    As with any organization, you may need to start at the bottom. Perhaps a project management position at a CDC is a bit of a stretch right now. You may have to bite the bullet and accept a lower position just to get your foot in the door.

    Once your're in, you'll be able to showcase your skills.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller
    I'm a bit confused as to the position you are seeking, as well as what you mean by project managerment. Handling financial transactions is generally limited to larger stakeholders in the development process, and project management invariably falls upon planning and development firms who handle project approvals and such. So I guess what I'm saying is that few consultants deal with the financial aspects of a project. You might wish to head for more of the real estate/investment career tract and I would think a degree in this area would be quite helpful.
    By "project management", I'm referring to the person at the developer who heads the development team, facilitating contact between the architect, contractor, various consultants, attorneys, etc.. during the development cycle, as well as keeping a constant stream of projects in the pipeline. That's what a project manager at a CDC will typically do. My issue is that I'm straight out of graduate school, and my experience is limited to internships that I've had. Planning school doesn't teach you the stuff you need to know to do this kind of work, but my internship has. I'm just trying to see how I can convince a potential employer of this.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    anything's possible, but it will probably be difficult to get the position you're describing without the finance skills. if you can stay at the position you're at and make it full time, that might work out really well, ESPECIALLY if you're working with the RE director.

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