How to build the next generation of CRE leaders
Project Destined is training future commercial real estate pros, and some of the biggest companies are hiring program graduates.
October 11, 2023 2 min read
Editor's note: This article was originally published by GlobeSt.com.
At this moment, the next generation of commercial real estate (CRE) professionals may be unaware of all the industry has to offer. They may not know what a career in CRE means or what foundational skills they should develop in order to succeed in the industry. And they may not have the industry connections needed to begin building their networks and gaining insight into potential career paths.
Project Destined is looking to change that. The program works closely with high school and college students to provide training, mentorship and job placement in the commercial real estate industry, working with top firms, including financial institutions like Capital One. And it starts by building awareness.
Project Destined lays a pathway for students to understand the commercial real estate market. “A big part of my work is demystifying,” says Cedric Bobo, founder of Project Destined. Bobo gets students excited about the industry, explaining that CRE professionals reshape skylines, transform communities and provide essential services, like affordable housing, to those in need. “That connects with them, because young people want to–and believe they can–do good and do well through their daily work,” he adds.
Bocheng Hu, an underwriting analyst on Capital One’s Agency Finance team, graduated from Project Destined in 2021, and agrees that the program was a turning point for him. “Project Destined was my first introduction to real estate,” says Hu. “It expanded my scope of understanding and reshaped my perception of the industry.”
By highlighting the multiple facets and variety in a commercial real estate career path, Project Destined has been tremendously popular, with students lining up to get into the program. Currently, Bobo receives 4,000 applications a semester with space for 700 students. “We’re breaking it down, getting students excited and creating a pathway to jobs,” he says.
Training the next generation
The push of the program, Bobo says, is to have students put together a pitch for a live deal in their city and present it as a team. To do this, they learn the fundamentals of market analysis, property analysis, asset valuation and deal financing, all skills necessary to secure a job and be successful in areas ranging from investment management to development, finance, asset management and property management.
Hu says these skills have been critical in his role at Capital One. He learned how to build financial models from scratch and how to read cash flow statements. “It was an exercise that helped me grow my understanding of these skills, and it’s something I’ll be able to apply throughout my career,” explains Hu.
Even more valuable, students begin to create a network of mentors that will help support their entire career. “That’s great,” says Bobo. “They now have people that are in their circle and a network they can grow.”
Hu echoes the tremendous benefit of the contacts he made through the program. “My mentors took the time to meet one on one and helped me explore different career paths,” he said. “Their advice got me where I am today.”
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