October 1, 2004

Real Estate Council Holds First Meeting

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Co-Presidents Ari Heckman ’05 and Cherie Hwang ’05 greeted students yesterday as they walked through the doorway of Statler 445 into the inaugural meeting of the Cornell Undergraduate Associate Real Estate Council. The newly formed organization hopes to provide a forum in which undergraduates can discuss current activity in the real estate business, network with industry professionals, represent Cornell at national real estate conferences and publish a resume book.

“This was a great idea,” remarked one eager face upon entering the classroom and picking up a handout detailing the afternoon’s agenda. She was not the only one who felt this way. Approximately 30 students showed up for the 5 p.m. meeting and Heckman noted that there were over 45 others who had e-mailed him to express interest in the association.

Heckman and Hwang, both urban and regional studies majors in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, devised the idea for this council while abroad in Rome last semester. They had detected a great deal of interest in real estate as a concept, but realized there was no clear-cut approach to applying it academically.

Back at Cornell this August, the two spoke with members of the Graduate Real Estate Council and began piecing together techniques and procedures to develop an undergraduate association. Once the groundwork was laid, they met with the Student Assembly Finance Committee to initiate the formal process of obtaining funding. Along with CUAREC Treasurer Cindy Quan, they completed the required budget forms and the organization that admittedly took some time to get off the ground was jump-started.

In order to recruit students and publicize the first meeting, flyers were posted around campus and information was sent to e-mail lists of targeted majors in every school.

According to Heckman, real estate is generally a tougher field to break into than other vocations because it boasts a smaller, more specialized employee base. A real estate firm differs significantly from large corporations such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, which solidify their staff by actively recruiting college students. The dearth of job opportunities translates into difficulties for graduating seniors entering the real estate workforce.

The council hopes to ameliorate some of these obstacles through cultivation of a vast network to connect club members with graduate students, faculty, alumni and professionals across the country. This is an essential element for those aspiring to attain a career in the field because, as Heckman said, “There is no MonsterTrak for real estate careers.” In addition, since the collection of students interested in real estate spans a variety of diverse majors, the organization will be an excellent medium to establish relationships within peer groups.

CUAREC will also function to critique resumes, sharpen interview skills, sponsor guest speakers and produce a resume book. The book, an emulation of a concept utilized by the graduate council, is a compilation of active member resumes. The bound copy will be sent to Cornell real estate contacts, various companies and affiliated individuals in hopes that it will offer a metaphorical foot-in-the-door when it comes time to seek employment. Greg Blake ’08 expects that measures such as these will facilitate, “a good gateway into real estate.”

Upcoming promotions for CUAREC include an Undergraduate/Graduate student networking event, the Urban Land Institute National Conference in New York City and a lecture series by Arnold Chace, CEO of Cornish Associates.

Archived article by Rachel Weiss
Sun Staff Writer