How Young Professionals Can Make a Mark in Commercial Real Estate

As Told by Four Rising Stars of Cushman & Wakefield

Too often in commercial real estate, big names with decades of experience get all of the attention. Doubtless, those brokers and property managers do very important and significant work, but there’s also a group of highly skilled younger professionals making a mark in the industry today.

As the largest property management and commercial brokerage company in the Twin Cities, Cushman & Wakefield knows that hiring and grooming young talent is a key ingredient of our success. We’ve found tremendous reward from investing in one of the largest intern programs in our industry and offering valuable professional development opportunities.

Most recently, Cushman & Wakefield, in back-to-back years, swept two of the industry’s most prestigious awards given to young, up-and-coming leaders: the Greater Minneapolis Building Owners and Managers Association’s Emerging Leader of the Year, and the Minnesota Commercial Association of Real Estate’s Rising Star of the Year.

So how can young real estate professionals (and any young professionals) establish themselves on a track to success and earn recognition among their peers? We sat four rising stars down for happy hour to find out.

Q: Young people may not have the same resources or network available as their more experienced and established colleagues. What do you do as a young professional to ensure your success?

Tate Krosschell, Senior Associate: It’s huge when you’re young to find a way to put your name out there by getting involved. Join committees and go to events so people know who you are. Especially in sales or business development, you’re more likely to get your calls returned if people know who you are.

Justin Luetschwager, Property Manager: It sounds simple, but just being willing to work hard goes a long way. Our generation has this stigma of being entitled and expecting everything to come to them. In my family, you had to work hard for everything you had, and I think that really set me up in a positive way for professional life.

Ashley Lair, Senior Property Manager: Agreed. I try to stay present in my day-to-day activities. It can be easy to drift onto autopilot, but if you spend the extra time to get to know your clients and coworkers, it pays off.

Q: What advice would you give a young worker looking to really succeed early in their career?

AL: Start networking early. Join an association right out of the chute. Being new, I didn’t know to ask whether my company would support that. But here, we have a flexible schedule so we can be on committees, attend meetings and really put ourselves out there.

Hudson Brothen, Associate Director: I definitely agree about the importance of networking. Especially in sales, people need to know who you are, what you do, and what your area of expertise is. Go to an event, shake some hands and introduce yourself. Also, read books! I try to read books on finance, real estate, investing, whatever can help. I just think ingesting information from something other than a screen can help.

JL: Ask a lot of questions, and listen well. Make sure you get a full understanding of a subject before you start talking about it. Also, people our age feel too much pressure to keep moving around. If you find the right fit, stick with it.

TK: I completely agree. Conversely, if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to make a change. If you spend too long in a bad situation or outside your area of comfort, you may find when you finally do make a change that you’ve wasted your time and resources and have to start over again.

Q: You’re all millennials here. What do you think – has your generation earned its reputation?

HB: Outside of commercial real estate, I’d say yes. We have a lot of great, young people in this industry who are enterprising. Maybe it doesn’t apply here. We as young people probably have more time than ever. A majority are not married, and don’t have kids. It’s a great time to get additional training. The time is now.

TK: I agree with that. I guess I was thinking more of my colleagues in this business, who are all motivated and hard working. But thinking of the greater population, it is pretty ridiculous how many people our age still expect to be supported by their parents long after college graduation.

JL: Those of us who were born in the late 1980s and grew up in the 1990s are a different breed of millennial. This group – I don’t think any of us are living the stigma.