CCIM Feature

CCIM Spotlight: Class Act

A CCIM educates students on commercial real estate career opportunities.

By nature commercial real estate brokers are always looking forward - researching the next hot market, networking with potential clients, or seeking out that must-have listing. But John M. Crossman, CCIM, of Crossman and Co. in Orlando, Fla., also looks back to maintain perspective. He hasn't forgotten the challenges of being a 22-year-old, fresh-out-of-college rookie in this business. And, because of that, Crossman chooses to volunteer several days each year to educate real estate students at four Florida universities about their commercial real estate career options.

More than five years ago Crossman and a company colleague created a career education program for both graduate and undergraduate students at Florida State University, his alma mater. Since then, the program has evolved into a two-day seminar with 12 industry speakers and expanded to three other area universities. Last year FSU honored Crossman with its Networking Conference Award for his longtime involvement in the school's student-alumni networking initiatives.

Despite frequent industry changes and the expanded real estate education offerings at colleges today, Crossman has found a formula for successfully connecting with students. "They don't want to hear your story.What they want is help in creating their own story," he says. To facilitate this process, Crossman brings together experts from all areas of commercial real estate - brokers, property managers, developers, lenders, and appraisers, among others - to discuss the various opportunities available within the industry. Each speaker provides insight on the day-to-day responsibilities of his or her position and the perks and challenges of the job, as well as professional educational programs that can improve their skill sets.

Conversation topics span the gamut: "We get into things like do they want a commission-based or salaried position? What markets might they want to live in and what are the different product types in those areas? It really helps them think about creating their own path in the industry," Crossman says. Other points he highlights include how to maximize networking opportunities, find real estate jobs, and master interviewing skills.

Crossman devotes a portion of the event to professional education programs, including those offered by CCIM Institute, Urban Land Institute, and International Council of Shopping Centers. Local representatives from each organization spend time explaining the programs and benefits of earning their respective designations. "Gaining credibility [that comes with a designation] is really important when you're starting out. The education also is good, and it's a great way to build relationships and meet people in the industry," he says.

As an informal liaison between students and a number of real estate industry professionals, Crossman enjoys helping young adults make career connections. "It's wonderful to get letters from students that are a few years into their careers who say they love the industry."

Jennifer Norbut

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