December 16, 2013
One question I often receive from DECA members and advisors is how students can set themselves up for successful careers in the apartment industry.
Our industry offers plenty of opportunity for people from a wide variety of backgrounds, skill sets and even education levels. Many paths can lead you to a fulfilling career in multifamily housing. However, there are students who are unaware of these opportunities but have the skills and education background for success in the apartment industry.
I have assembled a list of the top five college majors from which qualified candidates often come. These majors tend to attract students to diverse and exciting careers in multifamily housing:
- Hospitality – We often tell people the apartment industry is a lot like working at a hotel–except our guests stay 365 days a year. Students with hospitality majors learn skills that are easily applied to the multifamily industry, such as providing a safe and inviting environment for residents, delivering excellent customer service, paying close attention to details and focusing on business goals.
- Marketing – At its heart, our industry is about the sales and marketing of a home, a lifestyle, comfort and convenience. That’s what makes us successful—attracting new residents and keeping our current ones happy. People with creative minds that lend themselves to developing new strategies for marketing properties and attracting and retaining residents often do well in the apartment industry.
- Business Management – Students majoring in business management tend to be good with accounting, numbers, analyzing and using information to accomplish business goals. Those skills are critical in property management. Running an apartment community is a lot like running a small business, so we value people with entrepreneurial spirits who also are strong leaders and team players.
- Social Sciences – These students often know what makes others tick and have a deep-rooted desire to help people. That’s important to our industry, which is built upon superb customer service and providing people with homes. These students also tend to excel at problem solving and understand the art of communication.
- Property Management – Students with this major are already focused on the idea of managing a property but may be considering other areas of the industry, such as commercial property management or other areas of real estate, without realizing the many opportunities to be found in multifamily housing. These students would make ideal interns and great candidates for apartment management—a segment of the industry that is recession-proof.
Outside the classroom, students prepare themselves for apartment careers by gaining experience working in the industry. I encourage students to take a job as a resident assistant in campus residence halls or obtain a part-time position at an apartment community in their neighborhood. This experience will expose you to life in our industry and give you a first-hand look at what it takes to succeed. I also encourage students to take advantage of internships and job shadow opportunities at apartment communities.
DECA members and advisors can organize programs that feature industry speakers or include tours of a nearby apartment community. They can put together career fairs that include representatives from our industry or even work with apartment industry leaders on a project or DECA competition.
I would love to help you with any of these activities and can even connect you with your local apartment association and apartment industry leaders in your area. Please feel free to contact me to learn more.
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