Cushman & Wakefield’s BUILD (Blacks United in Leadership & Development) employee resource group (ERG) recently hosted its inaugural Shadow Week, where 17 students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the U.S. were paired with Cushman & Wakefield leaders to gain experience and an understanding of Cushman & Wakefield and commercial real estate (CRE) fundamentals.
BUILD Shadow Week is part a larger effort by Cushman & Wakefield’s Talent Acquisition team to target high-performing students with the intent to educate, expose and develop the skills needed to take advantage of opportunities in CRE.
Sean Bea, Campus Recruiter at Cushman & Wakefield, realized students on college campuses often didn’t know a lot about CRE or what the firm did, and noticed an even wider gap between the industry and diverse students. He and colleagues Summerlin Gillam, Andrea Hargrave, Jennifer Miles, Stan Telford and Shannon Anderson pioneered the Shadow Week program as one way to bridge the gap in diversity hiring efforts and identify strong candidates for internship and full-time positions at the firm.
“The opportunity to mentor with people at various stages of their careers at Cushman & Wakefield is one that could potentially shape a young person’s college or professional career,” said Bea. “To help increase diversity in the industry, it’s easier for potential candidates to enter into this career path when they know what’s available and can build a network.”
The mentorship opportunity is available to students ranging from college freshmen to seniors from all backgrounds and majors. During Shadow Week, students spent about an hour a day virtually with a Cushman & Wakefield mentor exploring different services lines on the transactional side of the firm.
The firm also recently partnered with Project REAP (The Real Estate Associate Program), to identify 14 Cushman & Wakefield mentees from the Americas to participate in REAP’s annual Academy, an 8-week education program, in addition to 10 months of one-on-one sessions with an assigned mentor from Project REAP for career development. The initiative was led by Sabine Apollon-Lopez.
“It’s important to look at the larger picture and develop our people at every level of the organization so that when young professionals enter the firm, they see successful leaders who look like them. That’s what will move the needle,” said Bea, who wants to expand the Shadow Week program to the firm’s other ERGs.