Yes, the employment prospects for those graduating in 2009 are somewhat challenging due to the current economic situation. But there is good news—particularly for young women who are considering a career path that is to some unconventional, but very exciting.
For years, the world of commercial real estate was thought to be a domain of men. But in 2005, a survey by Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network, found that the percentage of professionals in commercial real estate who are women had grown from 32 percent to 36 percent since 2000. Those numbers are predicted to have increased since then, and will soon be revisited in an upcoming follow-up study.
What’s more, the current economic challenges are actually creating new opportunities for women in this industry. In its recently released white paper, CREW Network points out that the frozen credit markets, slumping retail sector, and pressure to be eco-friendly have or will create jobs in retail design, accounting, and sustainable building—all areas that women in commercial real estate tend to specialize in and gravitate toward.
By focusing on these and other areas of opportunity described within CREW Network’s white paper, women can position themselves for careers that have significant potential for longevity and growth.
Entry-level positions in commercial real estate that require an undergraduate degree include brokerage, architecture design and sales. While law or other advanced degrees are required for many of the other specialties.
CREW Network’s mission, and that of CREW Foundation, the organization’s philanthropic adjunct, is to encourage more women to enter the field of commercial real estate. To that end, there are a number of resources that the organization has made available to students:
• CREW Network Scholarship http://www.crewcareerzone.org/scholarship.php
Every year, CREW Network awards 10, $10,000 scholarships to undergraduate students seeking careers in commercial real estate. These represent incredible opportunities to continue a professional education, while also pursuing internships and real world professional training.
UCREW is a facilitated mentoring program in which experienced women in commercial real estate meet or communicate directly with college students who are considering careers in the field. The mentoring relationships take place all over the country and are usually conducted via the Internet or email.
UCREW is an extension of a program called CREW Careers, in which high school girls tour construction sites, baseball stadiums and other commercial projects to get a feel for the industry.
• CREW Network Career Center
Here, students will find internship opportunities all across North America.
Later this year, CREW Network will celebrate its 20th anniversary. When it was founded, CREW Network members were professional women so isolated in the field that they created a networking group of their own. Gail Ayers, CEO of CREW Network, encourages men as well as young women to join their local CREW Network chapters to begin a successful partnership that adds 8,000 active professionals to really build an effective contact list. Networking has never been more productive and CREW Network members are committed to each other’s success.
Today, there are more than 8,000 CREW Network members across the country, and they are leading the field, being named CEOs and paving the way for future generations to ensure that the field remains diverse.
As graduation day nears, it is important to consider all career options —think about a field that you may not have considered. Commercial real estate is lucrative, viable and offers flexible types of jobs and work schedules. It is a rewarding field for both young men and women.