James Sears Jr. ’13

JOB TITLE: Licensed real estate salesperson
ORGANIZATION: Elegran Real Estate
LOCATION: Manhattan, New York

What was your first position after college? I worked as an office administrator at a financial advisory firm that I had worked at over the summers during college. After realizing I didn’t want to go into finance as I originally planned, I started studying for the New York State Real Estate Salesperson Exam. I knew I would still be able to help people invest their money, while working in a more dynamic and fast-paced environment.

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? Absolutely. Employers definitely value a liberal arts background and the strong writing and critical thinking skills that come with it. I was able to supplement my lack of course work in real estate and economics with previous employment and internship experience. The research skills I honed at Trinity play an integral part in my daily responsibilities at work.

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? Take the courses you actually want to take, not the ones that you think will look good to future employers. Take advantage of your summer jobs and internships, and build as many relationships as you can. I was able to supplement my lack of relevant course work with internship experience and letters of recommendation. Get involved with clubs, organizations, and sports, but definitely focus on the quality of your involvement rather than quantity. Start reading the real estate section of your local paper and The New York Times to get a feel for the new construction projects and different submarkets.        

What is the biggest misconception about your field? The public tends to view real estate brokers as slick salespeople, profiting on the ignorance of their clients while offering a minimal level of value and service. I have leaped at every opportunity to continue educating myself about the NYC real estate market and have taken courses to earn the Certified Buyer Representative (CBR®) and Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®) designations. A large part of my job has been demonstrating the value my services add to the home renting, buying, and selling experience. When you can educate your clients about the market and take the time to find out what their needs really are, you can forge a stronger relationship than if you just steered them toward the first apartment that fit their budget. Referrals are a huge part of my business, and I take pride in maintaining relationships with clients even after the transaction has closed.