As part of Boston College’s celebration of First Generation College Student Month, Ronette “Ronnie” Slamin ‘13 shares her journey and provides insight into her day-to-day life and keys to success within the workplace, particularly within the real estate industry.
Q: Main Duties & Responsibilities: Please provide a high-level overview of major responsibilities of your work in your industry/company.
I oversee the planning and building of mixed-income housing and communities. This includes coordinating the design and construction team, securing financing and interacting with the public for approvals.
Q: Qualifications: What kind of education, certification licenses, and / or skill sets are required (or encouraged) to be employed or advance in your line of work?
Really no education is needed! However, I have a Bachelors and choose to get two masters – Master in City Planning and Master of Science Real Estate Development to set myself apart.
Q: Keys for Success: What strengths or characteristics relating to being First-Generation do you see as valuable in or transferable to the workplace?
The most transferable strengths have been understanding how to be resourceful and how to follow a budget. I did not have family members to help introduce me to real estate professionals soI had to be resourceful, just like applying to college and navigating the application and financial aid process. Many aspects in real estate are unknown and you have to have the confidence to still take them on. Also, real estate involves money and you have to be able to manage it wisely. Being a first-generation student, from a low-income background I understood that all too well. So, my employers have been impressed with how I can track money down to the last cent.
Q: Workplace Atmosphere: Please provide brief insight into what the day-to-day life is like working in your specific organization or the field in general. What is the most/least energizing aspect of your work?
No day is ever the same, and that is what is amazing, especially for thosewho get bored easily. Because real estate development covers so many areas of work, my hours vary. If construction is going on I may wake up around 6:00 AM to be ahead of the emails that we get from our construction team. If we’re in the early stages of getting approvals from the public, we may have a lot of evening meetings and I may work late or weekends. There can be surprises every day and during every aspect of the project, so you have to be ready for that. And then each day is filled with meetings with our different consultants and team members – architects, engineers,contractors, lawyers, investors, marketing, resident services and with community stakeholders. The most energizing part is that that no day is ever the same, you always have to stay on your toes. The least energizing part of the day is that you’re always on your toes but if you love what you do a full night’s rest will take care of it.
Q: Hiring Timelines: When is recruitment and hiring most concentrated in your industry (e.g., early fall, spring, ongoing/year round)?
Recruitment is generally in the spring. Real estate tends to slow down in the summer months, which means hiring and onboarding slows down too. In real estate, many companies prefer to be lean so they only hire when it is really necessary, so therefore you want to always be looking and be ready and at the forefront of people’s minds.
Q: Starting Strong: What are 1-2 top action items someone entering their first internship or entry-level job should seek to find out or accomplish right away? Are there any particular questions you’d recommend they ask their would-be supervisor/manager during their interview to determine the right “fit”, or ask before their first day so they’re best prepared?
First two steps I would recommend are to figure out the source of news – which industry newsletters and sources you should read and subscribe to. Second, understand the company organization chart and the key players in your industry. Something that I heard from a mentor that has stuck with me is to ask the employer who their best employee was and what were the characteristics of that person. This in a way shows what they are looking for without them consciously realizing it. If they say their favorite employee worked around the clock and was always available. You can take that insight and figure out if that’s the type of environment you want to work in or if that aligns with what you are looking for.
Q: Advice for Aspiring Professionals: What additional advice would you offer to First-Generation student candidates in particular regarding their internship or job search process, to have a positive experience in the workplace?
Advice I would give is to use the BC network, and I know it’s said all the time but it’s true, is to take advantage of the BC network. Reach out to alumni who do work related to your interest. They may not hire you but the connection will prove invaluable. And remember to follow up with a thank you, if you can write a handwritten letter even better, it goes a long way.