Most students in Virginia Tech’s property management program — the first of its kind in the country — get job offers before they graduate.
“Our seniors experience an incredibly high placement rate, with most considering multiple offers before graduation,” said Residential Property Management Advisory Board Professor Rosemary Goss, who developed the program in 1985. “In addition, our undergraduates can look forward to summers with paid internships, scholarships to attend conferences, and a solid group of mentors composed of industry leaders.”
As of April 2014, all of the program’s spring 2014 graduates accepted jobs or are deciding between several opportunities. Over the life of the program, Goss said 95 percent of her students are placed within six months of graduation.
During the recession, the demand for property management graduates “went through the roof because of the demand for rental housing particularly in downtown areas,” Goss said. “We’re graduating about 20 students per year and could easily place twice that many.”
The success of the program is evident at the annual property management career fair held in March, which students say lacks the tension palpable at other events.
Organizers, including Sarah Lawrence of Richmond, Va., a senior in the property management program, cap the number of companies in attendance at 24, and the event has a waiting list of 10 more, Goss said.
Lawrence said she took a class in the property management program as a freshman and “loved it. I know I made the right decision.”
She interned with a luxury apartment community, where she spent time in the corporate office. She attended a leadership conference and, through a scholarship, the 2014 National Apartment Association education conference in San Diego with three other students.
Carter Powell, a 2011 graduate, returned to the career fair in 2014 to represent Camden Property Trust, which Fortune calls one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.
“I have a relationship with 95 percent of the people in this room,” Powell said. “I met many of them as an undergraduate. There are so many people to call on for support in this industry, and we all step up and support one another. We all instantly connect as Hokies.”
“Every player in the industry is here,” said Bill Laws of Associate Estates. “Rosemary Goss does a really good job. All of the other programs are modeled after this one.”
With three job offers in hand, senior Kevin Costellow of Burke, Va., still worked the floor of the 2014 career fair, talking with every representative. Costellow, president of the Student Association of Residential Property Management Club, said he developed a rapport with several industry leaders through arranging guest speakers for club meetings and talking with the program’s advisory board members.
His mentor, Sarah Malone, a 2007 graduate, offered him good advice, Costellow said. “It’s great to have insights about what it’s like in the real world, what it’s like on the first day, how much to expect to be paid. Sarah tells it like it is,” he said.
The Residential Property Management Advisory Board is made up of 30 leading companies. Goss said the board is an invaluable asset, providing financial support for 35 scholarships annually, funding for a senior study tour, and support for students to attend national meetings.
Cindy Clare, president of Kettler Management, which has been on the advisory board for several years, said, "We have had interns from the program for the last 10 years and many of those interns have become full-time employees Both the interns and the employees have been well-trained to work in property management and as a result have quickly been promoted within Kettler."
Goss holds national recognitions for her contributions to the industry in developing education programming. She received the Housing Education and Research Association’s Housing Impact Award in 2010 and the first Apartment Career and Education Award in 2006.
She also has earned college teaching and advising awards, including the 2014 Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising.
Graduates of the program enter the profession with a broad understanding of challenges faced by the multifamily housing industry, as well as extensive first-hand experience gained through internships.
The Residential Property Management Advisory Board Professorship was established in 1995 by the members of that board to recognize a teaching scholar in the field of residential property. Funded by donations, named professorships are prestigious titles in academia and typically provide a highly flexible source of funding to their holders.