In the midst of experiencing one of its biggest development booms in history, with commercial real estate prices up 90 percent, the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco found themselves in a quandary– there was no one to run the buildings once they were built.
According to BOMA SF Foundation, one of the most demanding issues facing the commercial real estate industry today is how to replace a large aging workforce.
“Most people in the industry have the impression that it is hard to find graduates who are—I don’t want to say properly trained because people come out of college with a good education—but having a good education, plus enough knowledge about real estate, and commercial real estate specifically, so that they’re useful on the job at the beginning,” said SF State finance lecturer David Hysinger.
BOMA SF Foundation approached SF State in 2012 about the industry’s need to have skilled graduates who knew more about real estate. BOMA and SF State collaborated to develop a specialized program, the only in the U.S. of its kind, offering four courses in the finance department through the School of Business that lead to a certificate in commercial real estate.
The partnership to produce job-ready candidates has been such a success that three other Bay Area groups have joined BOMA SF in a newly formed coalition, Commercial Real Estate Alliance for Tomorrow’s Employees. On May 14, CREATE will host a fundraiser honoring legendary architect Art Gensler, and the proceeds will go to scholarships and real estate classes at SF State.
“It’s at a stage where there’s been two or three years of operation now and it’s starting to get traction,” Hysinger said. “It’s one of those things where everything flows together and it works.”
Hysinger, an attorney specializing in real estate who has taught at SF State for 10 years, partnered with BOMA to develop the program and write the curriculum.
“It was a collaborative effort all along,” Hysinger said. “Once BOMA decided they wanted a partnership with SF State, I designed the courses, BOMA gave feedback, we enriched the courses and they made the decision to fund it, which was really exciting.”
BOMA’s $70,000 grant pays for the professors, funds guest lectures from industry professionals and offers three $3,500 scholarships once a year to students enrolled in the certificate program.
SF State alum Andrew Wilkey, 23, received the 2014 BOMA Commercial Real Estate Scholarship and secured an internship with real estate agency Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. through the program. He is now a tenant services coordinator at the Transamerica Pyramid Building, employed by Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.
“The program definitely provided a pipeline of opportunity for me to network and apply for several different positions,” Wilkey said. “It just so happened that at the same time I was graduating, the tenant services coordinator where I previously interned was leaving and the position was available. Due to the fact that I knew the staff from my internship, they reached out to me requesting that I interview for the position, and now here I am.”
To date, 27 students have earned the certificate in commercial real estate. Another nine students are expected to finish the program by the end of spring semester, bringing the total to 36, according to Melanie Summers, a career services professional in SF State’s Commercial Real Estate and Fellows Programs.
In 2014, BOMA launched a paid summer internship program in partnership with SF State, which led 11 of the 12 students who participated to receive job offers as a result of their internship experience. This summer, BOMA expects to offer up to 30 paid internships to SF State finance students who have taken at least one of the four required real estate courses in the program, according to Summers.
“(The program) definitely makes students more employable,” Hysinger said. The program is a success, he added, because it addresses the needs of both the industry and the University while simultaneously providing employment channels for graduates.
“My hope is that it’ll continue to be successful, that students will continue to find the subject interesting and that BOMA will continue to find that we are producing the kind of graduates that they would like to hire,” Hysinger said. “The partnership between academia and industry can only help both. It’s a perfect way to work together.”