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Cushman & Wakefield Providing College Students Advanced Step Into Commercial Real Estate, With Programs Committed To Educating And Hiring New, Diverse Talent

Joshua Deale • 12/18/2019
Cushman & Wakefield San Francisco recently had the pleasure of hosting a group of 11 college students from the University of Southern California (USC) who made the 6+ hour trek northbound to the Golden Gate city to learn more about the commercial real estate industry, and one of the most renowned and dominant markets in the world.

San Francisco PREP Event

Transpiring on Thursday, November 14, a core team of Cushman & Wakefield leaders and experts, across multiple service lines and departments along with key members of the firm’s vast collection of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)—including Cushman & Wakefield Future Leaders (CWFL) and Women’s Integrated Network (WIN)—were on hand to speak with the eager students comprising multiple grade levels. Students also had an opportunity to meet personally with the speakers as well as other stakeholders in the firm.

The following day on Friday November 15, in a separate but related event, Cushman & Wakefield representatives also conducted a series of interviews with nine different candidates from the firm’s Professional Real Estate Program (PREP) — an innovative, rotational development program for aspiring commercial real estate professionals. The interviewees represented colleges near and far, including the University of California Berkeley, Cal Poly, University Colorado Boulder, University of Hawaii, University of Indiana, University of Southern California, and Lafayette College, PA.

Established in 2013 on the East Coast in New York but launched last fall on the West Coast in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cushman & Wakefield’s PREP is designed to reach institutions of higher education that provide either coursework and or campus organizations with commercial real estate-focused curriculum. PREP has partnerships at 15 target universities and colleges and involvement with other engagements—such as the Atlantic University Center Consortium (AUCC) Career Fair—with more than 40 schools across the US comprising both standard institutions and those primarily dedicated to women and/or minorities, including historically black colleges/universities (HBCUs). Some of these schools were mentioned above but the list also includes Northwestern University, University California Los Angeles (UCLA), Barnard (Columbia) Women’s College, Morehouse, Spelman, Howard, and many more.

Amanda Camera, Campus Recruiter for Cushman & Wakefield who helped lead both San Francisco events, said, “One of our main goals in targeting college campuses is to meet with students who are most interested in pursuing a career in commercial real estate. We find visiting and spending time with prospective talent face-to-face on campus and having a chance to really engage them is a more effective process. It helps go a long way for us as a company to learn more about them, and certainly for them to learn more about us and possibly jumpstart their careers.”

Amanda continued, “It is fun, exciting and very rewarding to participate in these interpersonal collegiate events and have the opportunity to share our knowledge about the industry to help better prepare students for their future as real estate professionals. We hope they can become valuable members of the Cushman & Wakefield team one day.”

Recently completing their year-long recruitment process, the inaugural class of PREP Associates in San Francisco embarked on their rotational and development program journey at Cushman & Wakefield this September. This year’s three San Francisco PREP Associates (deemed the Class of 2019/2020) include Monica Brendsel and Brett Whippler from USC and Jackie Teer of UC Berkeley. Each started their careers at Cushman & Wakefield with two weeks of company and local market orientations. During orientation, PREP Associates partook in CRE information sessions, fundamental business trainings, and introductions to key stakeholders within the firm.

PREP Associates go through five different service line rotations during their year-long program. Rotation durations are approximately 10 weeks and are pre-planned based on a series of conditions and Associate interests. Notably, all Associates have also obtained their Real Estate licenses and are ready to rotate within all business functions.

Christina Urwand, Program Manager for Cushman & Wakefield’s Talent Acquisition Team, said, “A value-add process, the training curriculum incorporated throughout the program year provides development opportunities in financial analysis, lease terminology, advanced proficiencies in Excel, presentation skills, and much more. PREP Associates are assigned a Mentor, a Business Development Buddy and a Marketing Ambassador to support integration into our firm, workload support, and industry exposure.

Christina continued, “Among the greatest benefits of PREP is that it serves as a fast-track in helping navigate the business. The program gives Associates an insider view into multiple service lines while also helping them develop new relationships and connect directly with our stakeholders and industry members—many of whom might not otherwise have had such opportunity. Furthermore, Associates obtain a much greater understanding of the commercial real estate industry receiving in-depth, first-hand market knowledge.”

Christina added, “Furthermore, we also attempt to align our PREP Associates with suitable members of our Employee Resource Groups, such as CWFL, WIN, UNITY-LGBTQ+, Blacks United in Leadership (BUILD), Asians and Pacific Islanders in Real Estate (ASPIRE), or others. This can help expedite the relationship process while also make it more comfortable for those just starting out in our business. We take pride in our efforts to bring aboard women and minorities early on in their careers, and who now make up a combined 50% of our PREP nationally.”

Monica Brendsel C&W PREP AssociateMonica Brendsel, Cushman & Wakefield PREP Associate, said, “My first few months as a PREP Associate as well as my first rotation with the firm’s Capital Markets team have been exciting, and I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made. While there has been a learning curve, I think myself, Brett and Jackie all believe we’re also able to add value to our respective rotation’s teams, which is a validating feeling, especially when starting your first job out of school.

“What has also been encouraging is everyone at Cushman & Wakefield has been extremely welcoming to our cohort and many of the office’s experienced brokers have expressed interest in becoming involved—even confessing how they wish they had this program when they started out. Given the experience and knowledge we are obtaining, I am confident my participation in PREP will serve as a competitive advantage in my future!”

Monica added, “As for diversity and now being a young woman in commercial real estate myself, I didn’t fully understand the reality of the statement that this is a male-dominated field until seeing it, whether in attending industry networking events, meetings, or in other ways. However, I also see that Cushman & Wakefield, and specifically PREP, places great emphasis on diversifying its talent base, as there are many successful and highly-respected leading women in the firm’s San Francisco office alone. My mentor, Courtney Trunnell, along with former PREP Associate Austen Peterson have both been great resources in helping me navigate these industry-specific gender barriers and establishing myself as a valued member.”

Adding to its arsenal of educating and attracting prospective talent, Cushman & Wakefield also offers a National Internship Program that similarly provides interns real-world exposure to the firm and the industry through work projects, networking events and mentorship by colleagues, including members of CWFL. Cushman & Wakefield’s recent summer National Internship Program supported a total of nearly 270 talented interns who work in the firm’s US offices, assisting its business across a variety of service lines and functions.

In addition to supporting these young professionals by providing an environment for hands-on learning and future growth, one of the main goals of Cushman & Wakefield’s National Internship Program is to also generate quality and diverse talent for future entry-level roles with the firm. A unique advantage offered by the Internship Program are also some of the special rewards. For example, one prize includes a 15-minute one-on-one call with Shawn Mobley, Cushman & Wakefield’s CEO for the Americas.

As a global, 21st century company with a focus on what’s next for real estate and business, Cushman & Wakefield understands the practice and power of diversity. Multicultural, multilingual, confidently global, expertly local, the people of Cushman & Wakefield work and live everywhere in the world.

Kaitlynn Koeppler C&W Recruiting Team Lead“Our talent has many faces and our innovation many shapes. We work hard to develop and empower a culture that unleashes what’s possible in every person we hire,” noted Kaitlynn Koeppler, Cushman & Wakefield Recruiting Team Lead. “Through our diversity recruiting initiatives, Cushman & Wakefield strives to build a foundation that ensures diverse candidates are considered for every open role. We execute by establishing Cushman & Wakefield as an employer of choice; connecting with the right talent by defining segments of diverse, qualified candidates; and delivering an engaging candidate experience that exemplifies our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Christina closed, “In our industry, information and relationships are critical, and all of these targeted programs provide a great rooting system for participants to grow and hopefully then flourish in these and other areas. We hope that by continuing to proactively visit with college campuses and host in-office student tours and events together with internship opportunities throughout the year, we will create desirable career opportunities for students, while also continuously feeding our Professional Real Estate Program, which in turn will feed our pipeline of diverse talent across Cushman & Wakefield, from entry level to executives.”

Cushman & Wakefield is dedicated to providing opportunities around the world for smart, passionate, and driven talent. We encourage everyone to find out more about our global career opportunities by visiting http://www.cushmanwakefield.com/en/about-us/work-with-us

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