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College students are unlocking the potential of real estate management

“The Global Summit was the singular most impactful experience for my future career. The ability to talk and network with so many people from so many different walks of the real estate management industry in one place was truly incredible.” – Jacob Neil

Real estate management might just be growing as a field-of-study at colleges and universities across the country, but students like Jacob Neil are taking a deep dive into the industry realizing the number of opportunities available for them post-graduation. Now a Junior at Brigham Young University, Jacob is studying Construction and Facilities Management with an emphasis on property management and was one of just 10 students from across the country recognized as an IREM Student Leader in 2022.

We connected with Jacob to learn more about what got him interested in the industry, how his college experience has been so far, his connection with the Student Leaders program, and lastly, what the future might hold for him.

Coincidentally, just as many industry professional state they simply “fell into their career,” Jacob also, in a way, fell into his studies in Construction and Facilities Management. Growing up, Jacob “liked buildings; going to temples through church and being around beautiful buildings created an interest in studying architecture.” Although BYU doesn’t offer an architecture degree, Jacob had experience in shadowing engineers through a high school Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) program and made the connection between civil engineering and construction and facilities management.

“Originally, property and facilities management didn’t sound very cool, but as I learned more about it, I developed a deeper interest. A facilities manager for the Navy initially set the stage for me being open to the idea of facility management as a career and then one of my professors at BYU really opened my eyes to all the other opportunities available in this industry.”

Jacob’s best advice for anyone interested in pursuing a similar degree is to talk with as many people as possible: “people like sharing what they do with others who are interested.” He also encourages students to be active in their community both on- and off-campus. “Being a part of a club or team helps you find community. It can feel overwhelming when there are so many people at your school, and finding your passion through a club or activity is a great way to get engaged.”

To say Jacob has been involved at BYU is an understatement. From joining the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute club, working on tenant improvement projects for the BYU Carpentry department, participating in multiple internships across engineering and real estate, and presenting research at the UN International Academic Conference on Sustainable Goals, it’s clear to see he’s taken his own advice about becoming involved and expanding his skillset.

As if that wasn’t a lot already, Jacob saw the opportunity to get involved with IREM and expand his network through the Student Leaders program. At the beginning of the program he wasn’t sure what to expect as he had only been briefly connected with his local IREM chapter through BYU events. “There was a sense of community among us Student Leaders. We knew it was all building up to the IREM Global Summit, so we kept looking forward to that opportunity.”

As anticipatory as it was for Student Leaders to make it to the Global Summit, that’s when everything finally clicked. “It was the singular most impactful experience for my future career. The ability to talk and network with so many people from so many different walks of the real estate management industry in one place was truly incredible. Everyone is in one place, and they’re all willing and excited to talk to you and share their perspectives and backgrounds.”

It was also at the Global Summit that Jacob connected with his local IREM Utah Chapter. “They took me in, and just like family, helped me feel included and welcome.” He’s stayed connected with his chapter as he’s completing an internship in Washington D.C., an internship he secured through a connection made at the Global Summit. He’s part of his chapter’s academic outreach and public relations committees, and enjoys giving back and meeting people in leadership in the local real estate community.

So, what’s next? What does someone with all this experience plan on doing in the future? “It’s a little overwhelming when thinking about all the different opportunities,” but Jacob knows he’s found his place in the real estate industry and looks forward to whatever opportunity comes his way. “The wonderful part of this industry is the breadth of opportunities out there – now I just have to look through it all and find what’s right for me.”

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