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College Students See Promise in Apartment Careers

College Students Apartment Careers

The industry’s potential rent discounts, customer-service focus and ability to live in different cities appeals to students.

Carlene Byrne, a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, has never even lived in an apartment. 

So, it was not surprising that she knew very little about the apartment industry when the NAA Education Institute’s (NAAEI) presentation began at DECA’s Engage program for college students in New York last month.

“I am interested in knowing more,” Byrne said. “I have always had an interest in real estate. This is a perfect opportunity to learn more.”

When asked about a career in property management, Byrne offered the proverbial blank stare. At least she was listening.

Johnson & Wales student Nhung (Jessica) Huynh said “the apartment industry is definitely something new to me. My sister’s boyfriend is in property management. I knew about it but I did not want to [take a job in it].”

When Sarah Levine, NAA’s Director of Workforce Development, took the stage at the event and asked the roughly 65 students in attendance if they knew property management provided a career track, only one girl shyly raised her hand – holding it up about halfway.

During the next five hours, after students went on property tours at nearby apartment communities and watched two presentations, the students not only learned that property management presented a viable career path, but also one that would fit with their desire to see the country, serve other people and work in digital-driven marketing environment.

While they went into the day without much industry knowledge, many of the DECA members afterward held a genuine interest in the sector.

After presentations from Greystar Residential and Equity Residential (EQR), students peppered the presenters with questions, touching on a range of relevant, yet disparate topics, from the ambitious (What is promotion potential? Answer: Great), to the adventuresome (How easy is to transfer from one city to another? Answer: Very Easy) to the skeptical (With the market moving back to home buying, what are YOU going to do? Answer: Not much, since it is hard to buy in New York).

If those answers did not fully convince students to sign up, the employee rental discounts of approximately 20 percent in high-priced markets certainly turned some heads. 

“That is a big benefit—the housing discount,” said Luke Hansen from Rowan College at Gloucester County in New Jersey.

A story shared by EQR’s Marketing and Branding Manager Courtney Mulligan inspired others. At EQR’s New York community 160 Riverside Boulevard, they recounted how a couple came home with the newborn and the entire community staff was at the door when they arrived to greet their newest resident.

“It changed my perspective on the industry as a whole,” said Caleb Nochumson from the University of Arizona. “The apartment industry is a lot more family-oriented than I thought.”

Carrin Kassa from North Dakota State College of Science, working toward earning her third degree as she is employed full-time for a small electrical contractor, said the industry’s service focus also appealed to her.

“I was a travel agent at one point and that was my favorite career,” she said. “The customer service piece is what made me the happiest.”

Others were impressed with the industry’s digital marketing prowess.

“I learned a lot about their online presence,” says Katelin Romick from Heidelberg University. “They are doing a lot with social media technology and mobile communication.”

The presentations were enough for Huynh to take a second look at her sister’s boyfriend’s career. She was especially impressed by Greystar Marketing Manager Mariza Baeza’s description of how easy it is to transfer within the job from one city to another.

“I would definitely consider a career in apartments,” Huynh said. “I also like the fact that some companies have [communities] in many locations, which would allow me to travel.”

After a tour of EQR’s modern high-rise Beatrice in Chelsea, Byrne was hooked.

“The customer interaction part of the industry is attractive,” she said. “I want to talk to people. I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk all day.”

Byrne was about to elaborate, but then she saw Recruiting Manager Jamie Preski walk by. She politely excused herself and gave chase.

Why the hurry?

Byrne wanted an internship.

If you are interested in a residential property management career, we invite you to visit our RPM careers website.