Consulting: Experience

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At the beginning of this series on consulting, I discussed the role of consultants in the rental housing industry and explained that interpreting information and formulating recommendations for clients can be a complex challenge that requires experience, knowledge, problem-solving, and professionalism, attributes which not every consultant possesses. In this post, the first in this series, I’m going to talk about experience.

Experience is the toughest attribute for a consultant to acquire since you have to acquire it by following two paths which intertwine and overlap. Following just one path is not enough to acquire the experience you need to be a valuable, contributing consultant. These two paths are: (1) time spend working in the industry, and (2) working experience-rich jobs. How can these paths be followed?

Gaining elapsed time in the industry is one measure of experience. Put simply, the longer you’re in the industry working with buildings, landlords and tenants the more experience you’ll gain which you can leverage and draw on later. But it’s not enough to simply serve time; many aspects of the industry can only be understand on a fundamental level after you’ve been involved with multiple buildings, projects, and teams. Working experience-rich jobs means learning from each job you hold in the industry, making sure that you hold several different jobs (as much as possible, anyways), since it’s not enough to have held one job for your entire career in the industry, no matter how long.

What range or types of experience-rich jobs could you hold, ideally, in preparation for a consulting career?

  • superintendent
  • property manager
  • leasing agent
  • lease administrator
  • development assistant/manager
  • parking enforcement
  • brokerage assistant
  • researcher
  • due diligence analyst

The reality, of course, is that most industry participants, including consultants, will never hold all those jobs or even a handful of them. But for young people starting out in the industry, who hope to one day become consultants, it would be smart and beneficial to hold at least a few of those jobs, since the experience you gain will be invaluable in the long run. Because with experience comes knowledge, and with both comes the ability to solve problems.