Real Estate Career Advice By Rick Peiser

Where Are the Careers in Real Estate?

Stan Ross and James Carberry interview Richard Peiser, the Michael D. Spear Professor of Real Estate Development in Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

What has been the experience of the school’s graduates in finding jobs?

Before the recession began, it was not uncommon for our graduates to receive three to six job offers. Now they are more likely to take the first opportunity that comes up. And the job search is taking longer—from six to as much as 12 months. About a third of our graduates are from other countries. Because of the weak U.S. job market, some are inclined to return home to seek work rather than remain in the U.S.

Where are your graduates working?

With few opportunities to work for developers, more of our graduates are working on the consulting side or advising side. One went to a commercial brokerage. Some have joined investment funds. One joined the federal government’s TARP program. Some probably will become entrepreneurs and start by investing in small properties. Many of our students have a strong background in design and in graphic representation and presentation in general. A lot of them find jobs where they put those skills to good use.

What effect has the recession had on student interest in careers in real estate?

Before the recession, some students saw real estate as a way to get rich quick.
Many of those students have since gone into other careers. Those that remain are strongly oriented toward real estate. This is similar to the early 1990s, when I was at the University of Southern California’s Lusk Center for Real Estate.

How so?

At the time, we had a hard core of students who persisted in finding jobs in real estate. A decade later, they had worked their way up to senior positions in their companies and were recognized as leaders in the real estate industry. I expect that graduates who persist in finding jobs in today’s market will have a similar experience.

Is the recovery showing up yet in the job market?

Yes. There is a definite pickup in the job market in the spring of 2010. Where there were very few job opportunities a year ago, we are definitely seeing more firms inquiring about graduating students. The greatest interest is from firms that have raised capital to take advantage of distressed real estate.

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