Building his career: Finance major seeks real estate analyst position on road to own business
Joe Sokolowski is all about real estate and that’s fitting: he plans on building a property-based business from the ground up.
Sokolowski, a finance major from Cranford who’s graduating from the Rohrer College of Business (RCB), interned last summer with commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, an experience that confirmed his interest in property ownership and exposed him to avenues for reaching the goal of starting his own firm.
But his real estate education didn’t start there. He’s also been a board member of the Rowan Real Estate Group student organization; was a Provost’s student research fellow; was involved with the Rowan Student Investment Group and the Financial Management Association; worked with Dr. Eric Liguori in the School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship developing a Certificate of Undergraduate Study in real estate (which is not yet available); and was president of the Rowan fishing club which, he said, provided a surprising lesson of its own that can benefit any student (more on that below).
Before he starts buying and selling on his own, with his own firm, Sokolowski seeks an acquisitions analyst position in which he’ll immerse himself in real estate, the related markets and all of the variables that affect them. Sokolowski said the work will involve deep data dives into his future employer’s investments as well as those held by their competition. More than just digging for data, it will involve producing in-depth cost-benefit analyses of risk and presenting a breakdown of those risks to managers, clients and/or investors.
All of which speaks to Sokolowski, who entered his final semester at Rowan University with a 3.85 GPA and a deep well of experience that ran from Business Hall to WGLS-FM where he hosted Season 2 of the Entrepreneurship @ Rowan podcast.
“Starting my own real estate investment company might be ten years down the road,” he said. “In the short term I’m looking an acquisition analyst position in which I’d source deals and pitch them to investors.”
Though sales are ultimately the heart of the real estate industry, Sokolowski said backend research forms the brain and nervous system, providing managers and salespeople with vital information on which deals are built and closed.
Now that he’s concluding his final semester, Sokolowski said his RCB experience not only fed his passion for real estate but in business for the greater good, a central theme within the college.
“Real estate is a great way to build wealth and I’m hoping it sets me up for a good life, but there’s more to it than that,” he said. “With real estate, whether it’s a house or an industrial building that’s useful in creating jobs and community, there’s an emotional connection.”
As for being president of the Fishing Club, Sokolowski said the greatest lesson wasn’t so much in how to catch fish but in leadership.
“My advice to any student is, if you can take on a leadership role, even at the club level, it will help tremendously with job searches,” he said. “When I worked with Cushman last summer, I asked why they picked me over anyone else and they said I didn’t seem intimidated talking to them. That’s a skill I gained being president of the fishing club. Speaking in front of people, even a small group, gives you confidence to speak to others.”
Every spring, Rowan University highlights one graduate from each school and college. Read more stories about this year’s featured graduates.