On a rainy day in the middle of summer in New York City, huddled under the umbrellas that we bought on a street corner for $2.99 each, we made our way to the CBS building at 51 W. 52nd Street, the home of Cushman and Wakefield. Cushman and Wakefield was founded in 1917 in New York City, and is the world’s largest privately held real estate firm. Since its inception almost eighty years ago, it has now expanded to doing business in 192 cities in 58 countries, with over 11,000 employees. One of those employees that is about to take the world by storm is Andrew Ackerman.
After spending some of the fourth of July weekend with Andy in which we were able to have some fun on his boat on the Long Island Sound, meeting him at the office was a different story. Instead of “Andy” coming out of the black marble high rise CBS building, it was “Andrew Ackerman” extending handshakes and hellos with us. Of course he was still “one of us,” but the 23 year-old Sports Management major out of Ithaca College was all business in his conservative suit, neatly ironed white shirt, $130 tie, and his dad’s Rolex watch.
He has been with Cushman & Wakefield for two months now, and has quickly learned that the commercial real estate business is all about first impressions. You have to always be looking your best because you never know when a client could be ready to be shown a property and ready to deal.
After making fun of him a little bit for being “business like” and asking about the Rolex, we crossed the street to a local deli and got some sandwiches for the interview.
Andy started out at Ithaca College as a linebacker on the football team, where he enjoyed playing and watching sports and majored in Sports Management. Thinking that a job in sports was best for him, he managed to land an internship with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to see if he fit the profile. After being sure that he wanted to land a job in sports before the internship, the experience he saw there was that people in the industry had low pay, working 9-5, and evaluated Nielsen ratings. How boring! He came to the conclusion that he did not like it after all and wished to pursue something else.
What this did for him was save six months for him after graduation, where he would have started in sports and been unhappy and essentially wasted time finding a career that fit him best. This example is applicable to all college students considering entering a field or a career, where you should gain experience before you make up your mind on what you want to do. I think that what Andy did with getting the internship and realizing that the business side of sports wasn’t for him despite his love for the physical side of the game is something that all students should do while opportunities are available in school.
So Andy graduated college, and set off to go on a road trip through the West Coast, starting in Seattle and going down the California Coast because he had never been to California (sounds familiar). After the trip, Andy returned to New York City where he proceeded to interview for jobs.
He found a home at Cushman and Wakefield, where he beat out guys that had gone to Harvard, Princeton and other Ivy League schools. How did he do it? “You have to be very honest with the person you are interviewing with because they can see right through you if you’re not. You also have to let them know that you are coachable, and willing to learn. You have to have a personality for the job you are applying for, and in this job it is outgoing and thick skinned. Also, at the end of the interview try practicing saying “I want to work for you. You won’t find a harder worker than me, I have loyalty, I’m coachable, and I will work hard for you.” If you can say this and follow it up with a good firm handshake at the end, then there’s a good chance you’ll get the job.”
Now Andrew is in a job that he takes pride in doing, where he works at a brokerage that he feels is responsible for contributing to rebuilding the economy after the 9/11 strike. His job has the possibility to make a lot of money by leasing out space to clients, and also allows him to utilize his entrepreneurship skills because it is like he is running his own business. His job is to find clients that would want to lease a space, and once he starts to find those clients he can expect to see those checks rolling in. Not bad for a guy that failed his driver’s license test twice before passing.
One piece of advice that he gave us before we were done with the interview was this:
A way that he tries to find clients is to give them phone calls and informs them about available space in the city. I have found his methods both useful and humorous. One tip is to call before 7:30 am, before the secretaries are there so you can talk directly to the CEO of the company. “Once the secretaries are there, they won’t let you talk to them.” The second tip is to call a number that is not the CEO’s number but is within the office, so that when the call is transferred it shows up as an in house call to the secretary.
Hmmm. Definitely helpful for those that cold-call people, like the PTP team.