BCIT’s Professional Real Estate Program prepares students to take on the fast-paced, ever-changing market

Posted by Michael La Prairie on Monday, August 26th, 2019 at 6:05pm.

Think fast. On the playground you heard that and knew a surprise ball was headed your way. The challenge: to respond in time to catch it. Fast-forward to today’s business world. The ability to think fast is vital there, too—that is, if you want a fast-paced, challenging career.

For Trevor Heselton, a recent graduate of BCIT’s School of Business Professional Real Estate Program, the choice was always going to be the swift over the slow. And for him that could only mean one career: real estate. “What drove me to the profession is that we live in a city where real estate will always be one of the biggest and fastest-paced industries, which means both job security as well as a dynamic, always-learning environment.”

Now a Development Coordinator for Wesbild’s Commercial and Industrial team, Heselton relishes the memory of the Professional Real Estate Program’s “keeps-you-on-your-toes way of learning that translates directly to the real world. Before entering the program, I met with past grads. The common theme was, ‘If you want to be in this industry, there is no better program to set you up for success.’”

That’s because the one -year program prepares students for the daily, even hourly, expect-the-unexpected of real estate, explains Program Head Bill Phillips. “Our students develop attributes such as thinking on their feet, having a lot of grit and always being ready with the courage to start something that might scare them—but still they finish it. For most, it will be the most intense educational experience they’ve ever had.”

Which pretty quickly blows away the old misconception of real estate as a genteel part-time hobby for socialites or retirees. Contributing 24% to the provincial GDP (2016 figures), real estate is a tough, big-league economic player, the single largest contributor to B.C.’s economy.

Grads work in every aspect imaginable: residential, commercial and recreational brokerages 

To deflate another misconception, it isn’t just about selling condos and houses, says Phillips. “Real estate is made up of many specialties: residential, rural farms, ranches, resorts, commercial real estate, office leasing, retail, industrial. And the core skills students gain are portable, able to be taken into many related careers: development, construction, lending, property management, asset management.”

Students learn to meet challenges across the business spectrum. “They research and devise solutions that Bentall or Colliers or any world-class corporation would support.” As a result, they come out ready to take on the world—literally. Grads work in all major centres, e.g., Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Hong Kong, London, Toronto, San Francisco.

“We teach students skills that allow them to look at whole spectrum of real estate industry and then say, ‘I think I’d like to do that.’ Our grads work all over province in every aspect you can imagine: residential, commercial and recreational brokerages; BC Assessment Authority; municipal governments; Colliers; Cushman & Wakefield, Avison Young; RBC; Bosa Properties; Wall Financial; Rennie Project Marketing; and much more.

To Jamie Schreder, a 2007 grad and now owner of Royal LePage Wolstencroft, grads emerge “immersed in academics but more importantly, in real-world experiences. They understand what is expected of them and typically acclimate to the fast-paced world of real estate very quickly.”

As an employer, Schreder sees job applicants from other programs. He puts it bluntly: there’s no comparison with the BCIT Professional Real Estate program. “I and many others actively seek BCIT Business grads due to the consistency and quality of the people that come out. All the grads I have worked with need very little direction. They have been hard-wired to ask intelligent and concise questions to find the best solutions.”

The volatility of Lower Mainland real estate makes our market challenging—but, for those with the right stuff, incredibly rewarding, Schreder says. “I'm excited about this market. It provides a platform for skilled professionals to show their value and grow their business. Real estate is not easy, and those that get in for a quick buck do not survive. But there are opportunities and those with a growth mindset and driven personality can identify them. This is what BCIT Real Estate grads have going for them: the ability to persevere and succeed.”

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