Leadership

Real Estate Groups Unite to Promote Industry to Students

By / Jul 24, 2018 An interactive map featured on the the Careers Building Communities website.

More than two dozen organizations are supporting the Careers Building Communities initiative, encouraging students to consider careers in a field that often lacks dedicated curricula.

Buildings touch a host of industries—architecture, construction, mortgage finance, office management, and more. And many of those industries are facing rapid growth: The Department of Labor estimates that jobs in construction and real estate appraisal, for instance, will grow faster than average through 2026, causing concern about worker shortages and skills gaps.

“Not even a handful of colleges and universities have any sort of career track for real estate.”

To help spread the word about that need to prospective employees and students, 30 associations have bonded together to create Careers Building Communities, a website and outreach campaign designed to showcase the work of the participants’ members. Among the groups taking part in the effort, launched last week, are the American Institute of Architects, Associated Builders and Contractors, BOMA International, and more.

“Not even a handful of colleges and universities have any sort of career track for real estate,” said Doug Bibby, president and CEO of the National Multifamily Housing Council, which spearheaded the initiative. “Yet when they get in this business they never leave. They’ll change jobs, they’ll change employers, they’ll even change career paths. But they don’t leave the business.”

That sense of the industry’s appeal led Bibby to start brainstorming ways to spread the word collectively with industry colleagues about two years ago. On the street one day, he realized the ideal way to frame the message. “I was walking by a building and I thought, a lot of different career tracks went into that building,” he said. “Someone had to develop it and finance it. It was probably appraised at one point. A broker may have been involved in it, a manager is in there operating the building, it may have been financed with debt and equity. Landscape architects were working on the outside, and interior designers working on the inside.”

Borrowing from that concept, the Careers Building Communities website features an interactive map showing the range of businesses involved in real estate. Though the goal is serious, the tone of the site is meant to be casual and unintimidating, built on colorful maps and a playful interactive quiz (“Which Star Wars character are you?”) designed to help users identify a career path. Bibby said each of the 30 participating associations contributed money toward the creation of the website and to consult with a Georgia Tech professor on materials that would best connect with students. Bibby said the group hopes to use the connections its members already have with high schools and colleges to spread the word about the site.

Each participant has made a three-year commitment to support the initiative. In that time, Bibby said, he hopes that the Careers Building Communities will not just connect with students and job seekers who might find the industry appealing but also help establish higher-education departments related to real estate.

“Success will look like this getting pushed out to the schools, getting curricula established, working with guidance counselors at the high schools and colleges,” he said. “And also the inroads that we might be able to make in building out curricula. Georgia Tech just added a development track in their school. It’s about building the credibility of real estate as a career path, and a career track, and an educational track.”

Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. More »

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