On Friday, February 25th, I had the opportunity to attend the Second Annual Women’s Real Estate Trip to Chicago, a trip which included 22 undergraduate and graduate level women from the Wisconsin Real Estate Program. The trip was a series of exciting networking opportunities and also a great chance to talk about the experience of being a professional woman in the male-dominated field of real estate. Our two-day trip consisted of a Thursday evening happy hour in Downtown Chicago followed by a full day of four office tours and meetings on Friday. A well-attended Chicago “Women in Real Estate” happy hour at PrimeBar on North Wacker Drive provided some fantastic networking opportunities for students.
Throughout the day on Friday we were hosted by four major downtown firms involved in high-level real estate investment: Cornerstone, Metlife, Prudential, and Heitman. The firms sent their top women management to meet with us in a dedicated conference room and we were treated to panel-style stories and Q & A sessions about these women’s careers. The 22 women students in attendance had the opportunity to ask questions that tend not to be asked at a standard, mixed-company real estate event. For example, what are the biggest obstacles and/or advantages to being a women in this industry? How does your current workplace’s culture compare to other places you have worked? When interviewing for a new position how can you tell what a potential employer’s culture is like? And perhaps most interestingly: how do you balance work and home life, especially if you have a family?
This Q & A format allowed us to have very candid conversations about the unique experience of working as a woman in a predominantly male-dominated field. It was fascinating to hear the variety of experiences, and especially interesting to hear from women of different ages and see how norms about women in the workplace have changed over time. It was especially exciting to have these conversations with such high-level real estate companies, as the shared experience of being a woman in this industry provided a terrific basis for networking and recruiting conversations. Business cards and contact information were exchanged rapid fire, and all the companies made sure to let us know about their open positions and internship opportunities. I certainly won’t be surprised if more than a few women on the trip secure internships or full-time positions from the connections forged during the trip.
The Women’s Real Estate Trip to Chicago was by all measures a rousing success! We look forward to making this trip to Chicago annually to continue these conversations. It is exciting to be involved with strengthening the UW Real Estate program’s connections with real estate companies that hire and promote women, and are actively pursuing gender diversity in the workplace.
Thank you again to Cornerstone, Metlife, Prudential, and Heitman for their support in making this trip a great success!