Real Estate Career Advice By Byron Koste

Where Are the Careers in Real Estate?

Stan Ross and James Carberry interview Byron Koste, executive director emeritus of the LEEDS School of Business. He previously was executive director of the Real Estate Center.

The University of Colorado Real Estate Center was founded in 1996 to establish an academic program for real estate education and research. The center, under executive director Susan Watts, offers course work, internships, networking and job placement assistance to undergraduate and graduate students in the LEEDS School of Business, UOC Boulder [au: web indicates it is referred to as CU-Boulder].

Where have business students interested in careers in real estate traditionally found opportunities?

In addition to finance and asset management positions, some of our graduates have pursued careers in sustainable development and management of real estate. One graduate worked on a sustainability program for the former Stapleton Airport and went on to work for a leading developer. Some graduates have started their own companies, including one who started an agricultural business in an urban area, or what is known as agurbia. Graduates also have been interested in other areas such as affordable housing. About half of our graduates typically want to go into commercial development, but with development activity in a lull, they have had to look for other opportunities.

Where are graduates looking for work in the current market?

Colorado has diversified from traditional oil and gas development into production, transmission, and sales of renewable energy, and some graduates are pursuing careers in renewable energy in Colorado and elsewhere. For example, some have joined the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Others have formed partnerships with investors to acquire acreage throughout the world as well as in Colorado for wind farms, solar arrays, and other forms of alternative energy.

How does a student prepare in school to become an entrepreneur, such as an investor and operator of wind farms?

Students must have a solid understanding of finance in order to become entrepreneurs or pursue other careers. Students who become wind farm operators, for example, must address such issues as raising capital for investment in a wind farm, determining how best to invest capital, estimating the costs of acquiring land and constructuring wind turbines, and determining the return on investment. And every graduate needs to be LEED accredited and ARGUS certified. Along with the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, many students pursue a dual real estate/entrepreneurship emphasis.

How does the LEEDS School help students prepare for careers in real estate or other fields?

Every student gets a mentor, one who is knowledgeable and experienced in a particular industry. Students are guaranteed internships in the industry of their choice. And at least a third of our students get a trifecta: a mentor, an internship, and a job in their chosen industry.

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