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Real Estate Students Learn New Skills While Helping Industry Shortage

18 October 2018

Relocating from Sacramento to Berkeley as part of his career-changing plan, Kelvin Warren left behind his Volkswagen import/export business and began researching colleges to study real estate. When Merritt’s name kept popping up, he realized there was a strong program right nearby where he could pursue his dream.

After two semesters, his dream has just grown exponentially. He was fortunate to be among the 25 students in Merritt’s real estate program to be chosen to participate in the Commercial Real Estate Fellows Program sponsored by CREATE, a partnership of commercial real estate associations in the Bay Area. The program has been specifically designed by industry experts to help solve the shortage of commercial real estate employees in the Bay Area. They accomplish this by offering a selected group of students a 16-week program that combines job preparedness skills with industry-specific information on careers such as property management, asset management, leasing and development, construction management, and facilities management taught by experts.

“We wanted to enable college students to consider commercial real estate as a career option,” says Kathy Mattes, a real estate consultant, who helped design the program as a member of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of San Francisco Foundation Board of Directors. “We started the Fellows Program at San Francisco State University last year, then decided to take it to the East Bay and address the needs of the East Bay markets. We chose Merritt because its strong real estate program is primarily geared toward residential real estate, and we were offered the opportunity to give students more options. This program allows them to be better prepared to get a job, and we have industry members who want to hire them.”

Longtime Merritt real estate instructor Guy Forkner agrees wholeheartedly. Between the knowledge they are getting in Merritt’s program to prepare for the real estate licensing exam and the training opportunities offered by the Commercial Real Estate Fellows Program, he says students will be prepared to compete for the many job opportunities in Commercial Real Estate.

“With an outlook of employee turnover of nearly 50 percent in the next five years, there will be no problem finding work,” says Forkner, who also founded the program’s popular Real Estate Forum which addresses current industry issues. “The students in this program are pretty much guaranteed a job to meet the hiring needs of building owners, investors, operators, and service firms.”

And that’s music to Kelvin Warren’s ears, as he has worked hard in his classes and wasn’t expecting this added bonus to his career outlook.  “I had no idea there were so many opportunities in the real estate field,” says Kelvin. “It was a blessing I was chosen for this program to enhance my knowledge from people working in the field. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.”

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