Hutt Cooke (left), of Matthews Real Estate Investment Services, discusses career opportunities with business student Ole Miss at the recent Fall Real Estate Forum. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss – More than 60 students from the University of Mississippi had the chance to meet with a diverse group of real estate companies recently to expand their network within the industry.

The Fall Real Estate Forum, sponsored by the UM School of Business Administration, hosted 11 companies on campus to chat with students interested in careers in real estate. The event took place on October 21 at the Johnson Commons East Ballroom.

It was the second year of the forum, but it caught the attention of many students and companies. Sergio Garate, assistant professor of finance, felt that real estate companies did not have enough of a presence at the university’s job fairs. So he worked on creating an event for job opportunities in the field.

“We decided to do something that was more real estate focused,” Garate said. “When I started talking to all the employers, they mentioned they wanted to talk to our students about their companies and the opportunities they had to offer.”

Companies represented included Dallas-based BBG Real Estate Services. Allison Johnson, Director of Client Relations at BBG’s Jackson office, enjoyed her experience at the forum.

“We love the connections we’ve made with the University of Mississippi and meeting new students,” she said. “We’re always excited to get our name out there, find new talent and connect with people for future opportunities.

“We get to know the students and what they do at school, but they also learn who we are, what we do and how we are structured. This gives them a holistic view of what the real estate industry looks like.

Companies involved in this forum want to do more than find new employees, Garate said. They want to educate students about the many opportunities in real estate.

Among the students who took advantage of the opportunity was Chapman Bryant, a senior from Richmond Hill, Georgia. Bryant, who double majored in management finance and real estate, found the forum useful for himself and others pursuing a career in real estate.

“I would recommend other students to attend these career fairs as it gives them the opportunity to learn a lot about the industry and ask questions from industry professionals,” said he declared.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to speak one-on-one with these professionals and learn about the many career opportunities in real estate.”

This year, Garate featured a panel of real estate professionals who discussed their unique career paths and provided information for students. The panel consisted of Tracy Wofford, of Cushman & Wakefield in Madison; Brian Estes, of the Estes Band of Ridgeland; and Brian Phillips, of Randall Commercial Group in Oxford.

“Going forward, I think we should offer virtual interviews because some employers can’t attend in person,” Garate said.

“After graduation, our students have between 90% and 95% employment in the real estate industry, so I think this experience helps our students a lot. My goal is to make sure that our students are ready to succeed in this industry.