Class Year: 2016
Major: Political Science
Shadowing Visit Site: Colliers International – Boston, MA
Describe your visit and what did you gain from the experience?
After getting matched up with an alumni from the Class of 2010, I was able to schedule an entire day in at the office just a few days before Christmas. Despite the crazy holiday season, my alumni tailored his day around me and made it clear that he wanted me to have an engaging shadowing experience. We started the morning off grabbing coffee and sat down for about an hour as he shared insight on his own career path after graduating from the Hill and tips on how he leveraged his Holy Cross education in networking/the job hunt. For the rest of the morning, my alumni walked me through some of his team’s recent offering materials, pitch books, and case studies, making sure that he answered any question I had along the way. Being able to comb through real work and get his feedback while doing so was an awesome learning experience in and of itself. Not only was my alumni then nice enough to set up afternoon meetings for me with five other members of the office, he walked me down the street to his fellow Holy Cross roommates’ office for a meeting as well! I was able to conclude my shadowing day by sitting down with my alum’s boss and head of the team; he ended up getting a call while we were talking and he had me sit in on live negotiations!
How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans/goals?
I’ve known that I want to work in the commercial real estate industry upon graduation, but given that there are so many different avenues within the business, I was a bit overwhelmed trying to navigate the various options. Having my alum be part of the Capital Markets team, I was able to get first-hand feedback on what he deals with, and see that play out in action when I sat in on a phone call. My alumni set me up with members from Leasing and Acquisitions teams as well, so I was able to talk to people from other sides of Brokerage and get a fuller picture of all the moving parts in a full-service firm like Colliers. Having met people who work from all different sides of the table, I was able to use this experience to hone in on my interests and expand my network– a huge step in breaking into the business given that CRE is all network-based!
What is some helpful advice your alumni host shared with you?
My alumni shared advice and honest insight with me throughout the course of the entire day, but the most important thing to remember is that it’s not a one-sided conversation– you have to come prepared, engaged, and ready to ask questions! You will only get out what you put into it. That being said, I came into the shadowing day with my typical go-to questions to get conversation started but our conversation naturally flowed from there. My alumni complimented me for taking some notes as we chatted and how I brought up some current projects/industry news happenings– he said given the number of students who reach out to meet with him, very few actually come prepared and look legitimately interested. Even if it’s a quick 5 minute coffee conversation, be ready to show yourself off– show them you are actually interested in what they do and have something to offer. The worst thing you can do is make them feel like they’ve wasted their time!
Why would you recommend the Alumni Job Shadowing Program to other students?
While we are current students of Holy Cross and constantly hear from people all of the time how great the alumni base is, I don’t think students fully realize how truly special this network is. The Holy Cross alumni who I’ve met with through my networking will bend over backwards for any kid who reaches out– I didn’t really buy this until it happened to me! The alumni who participate in this program are signing up because they WANT to host YOU. It really comes down to who you know nowadays so you will reap the benefits the more you put yourself out there– you will come to find that the more you network, the easier it becomes. If you’re an underclassman still trying to figure things out, definitely use the AJSP as a stepping stone to get things going and as an opportunity to explore what you think you like or don’t like. As for upperclassmen, AJSP is an easy piece of conversation you can drop in an interview or a meeting– it demonstrates interest and how you took the time to get out beyond just the classroom and actually get some experience under your belt. I’ve referenced my shadowing day in networking I’ve done since; someone knew one of the people I had met with during my shadow which opened up our conversation even more!