Millennials in the workplace: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you read this? That they won’t stay there for too long? It’s only natural: young people tend to be bolder, more adventurous. But young people are ambitious, too. Their focus on “going from zero to hero” and building up their careers is perhaps stronger than anyone else’s. There are many ways in which they can develop professionally, and many choose to do so by sticking to one of their first – if not actually their first – employers. At Colliers, we’ve witnessed such accomplishments over the years. Most of our seniors joined the team when the real estate market was only budding, and our professionals grew together with it. Young professionals in a young market, it seemed only fitting. Today, however, is not about them. Even after the Romanian real estate market matured, we continued to attract young talents and established a tradition of nurturing their potential and guide it on the road from good to great.
Today, we take pride in our new generation of Young People in Real Estate.
Meet Roxana, our 25-year-old Associate Office Advisory, the youngest graduate of the “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urban Planning in the Office 360° department and an essential member of the Project Management team that is now in charge of the new Colliers headquarters refurbishment (more info, coming soon!).
She came at Colliers during her University studies, looking for a summer job. In time, however, Roxana found a whole different experience, one that came to be a perfect fit for her. As it happened to many professionals before (and after) her, the Colliers Frontdesk Receptionist position would prove to be a stepping-stone for her career in real estate.
“I had just finished my first year of college and I was looking for my first job, a three-months job for the summer. I didn’t want to go back home during this time, because I felt that time would pass by and I would not do anything productive. I applied for various jobs from which I thought I could learn, but one day I received a phone call from a friend and he told me that the company he was working for was looking for someone to work at the Frontdesk. The next day I went to the interview and in two days I was already at Colliers’ Frontdesk. Things went very fast; I don’t think I realized what was happening until I got to the office and I started to know my colleagues. Given that at that time I knew nothing about the real estate market, the thing that convinced me to accept this job was the opportunity to see how a large organization works, but also to get acquainted with another type of environment, which I had not met before.
As a note, the funny fact is that when I arrived for the interview, being so excited, at the reception of the building where I had to register, I completely forgot the name of the company I had to go to, so I made some phone calls in order to remember the name. Actually, I wasn’t expecting it to be a building with more than two tenants, hence the confusion.”
Changes might seem frightening for some; the thrill of a new beginning is not the same for everyone. For Roxana, however, there was no such thing as insecurity. Only excitement. A first step into the Colliers office was enough to win her trust.
“I think the first shock was when I arrived in the area and I saw all the office buildings. I quickly realized that here was clearly a different world than what I had seen in Bucharest until then. The second shock was indeed when I entered the Colliers’ office. I remember that when I arrived at my first day of work, I was greeted by a group of about 6-8 people who were smiling at me and came to meet me and I could not believe that everyone was so friendly. The first impression I got when I entered the Colliers’ office is that all people are equal; they all behaved as we have known each other for a long time and I think that weighed the most in my process of adapting to this new environment. I was also very impressed by the design of the office. I have perceived it as a very cool modern place, and I was instantly able to feel its identity that fits perfectly with the type of people in the office.”
Roxana’s story so far follows an inverted „expectation versus reality” pattern. While this usually suggests that expectations are always higher than what you eventually get, in her case, it was the other way around: reality was way more impressive than what she imagined. A second step into the interview changed Roxana’s entire perspective on what a job is actually like and on what colleagues and teams should behave.
“I came to the office very tensed because this was my first interview and I didn’t know what to expect. Beside the fact that it was my first experience of this type, I was overwhelmed by all this “new” in my life so I began to notice everywhere new things, from an area full of new office buildings, to the building itself where I saw people so relaxed (not stressed, how my entire life I was thinking about a job), to the Colliers’ office itself and the world I was discovering there. I became relaxed when the interview started, and I quickly realized that everything was much better than everything I have kept imagining. My expectation was to have a very formal interview, to be the question-answer type, but the surprise was very big. It was a very pleasant conversation, in which the people I was interviewed by tried to discover me as a person, not to test my knowledge, to review how many courses I have, what experience I have or what was my knowledge regarding the real estate market. It was like a discussion between some friends who haven’t seen each other for a long time. We talked a lot about our hobbies, about books, about volunteering and about what I learned in my first year as a student.”
Roxana has been with the Colliers team for over 5 years and she went from Frontdesk Receptionist – a title that may be underestimated, since many don’t even imagine the flexibility, learning possibilities and development opportunities that hide behind it – to Assistant in the office department in a very short time span. Everything happened while Roxana was still in college – and one that did not offer the easiest of experiences, which makes her progress even more impressive. Joining the Project Management division shortly after was only natural and expected, especially given her educational background.
“I am already 5 years and 10 months old in Colliers and I never thought that I would be part of this team for so long. As I said before, I came up with the idea of having a summer job to take up my vacation time. When I should have quit my job because I was starting college, my colleagues suggested to continue to work part-time in the Office department. Although I knew it would be a challenge for me to cope both in college and at work, I think the fact that I liked so much the environment, the people with whom I was also working and the fact that I was given the opportunity to deepen my knowledge regarding the real estate market, made my decision so easy to take. For three years, during college, I worked part-time as an assistant in the Office department and at some point, I began to make a connection between the knowledge I gained in college and the knowledge I gained at Colliers. Having been part of the Colliers team for a long time, I found out what is specific for each department, and the Project Management department caught my attention the most. When I finished college, I was stuck in deciding which way I want to go next, if I want to go to work in an urban planning company or if I want to stay in the real estate area. At that moment I decided together with the Colliers team to be part of the Project Management team, being the field I was closest to in terms of the knowledge acquired during college. Starting as an assistant for this department, I was rapidly accumulating knowledge related to project management, workplace consultancy, BOMA measurements and I managed to understand the complexity of a project. After two years in which I provided support in this department, my colleagues considered that I am ready to be an active part in projects, so for about 10 months I’ve been an Associate and I directly help my teammates within the projects we have and I also took over the BOMA measurements. All this time, I can’t say that I had some very clear directions, that I set some goals that I was going to reach, but I wanted to go with the flow, to enjoy every moment and every opportunity. I think that my “relaxed” approach allowed me to learn things in a certain order so that I could be prepared for more responsibilities.”
For a 25-year-old Millennial still working in the place where they got their first job, it means that Colliers must be doing something right. Roxana explains better the reasons that made her stay and we can only hope she will be convinced to remain even longer.
“Certainly, in the first place is the environment created within Colliers, the environment in which you are free to say what you think and to express your ideas. This environment is created especially by people and I am lucky to have a very well welded team that I can rely on whenever I need. Beside the fact that when you enter the office for the first time you notice colleagues who are very friendly, you also realize that the main way of working between them is a collaborative one and the office is especially created to facilitate this type of work. Secondly, what made me stay in Colliers was the flexibility in terms of career path, but also the flexibility of the program. I don’t think I can name the thing I like most about Colliers, it’s a combination of factors that makes you feel like you belong to this team. In Colliers, first of all, I learned how important is the team you belong to and that you can’t get the same results on your own. I found out that external factors must also contribute to your well-being in order to maximize your productivity and creativity. I have also learned that both ethics and honesty are the main pillars creating and maintaining successful long-term partnerships. I think that all the experiences I went through helped me to shape myself as a human being, to gain experience and to learn to cope with any situation, so I think that I am more mature both professionally but also personally.”
Balancing college work and real-life work was not the challenge Roxana had to prepare for: at best, this was the perfect time to learn from these two experiences and mix the know-how from each side. Saying „yes” to responsibilities you’ve never had before when you have no clue whether you can do a good job or not – now that can put you in a soft spot. Yet Roxana has done her job beautifully and continues to do so.
“I think that every time you start something new, the biggest fear is that you are not fully prepared to take on certain responsibilities. But what I learned along the way is that new and different situations will appear every time. It is such a complex field that you cannot learn everything beforehand and that is why it is so important to be prepared in terms of the attitude you need to approach every case in order to learn how to put things in order. The biggest challenge I had when I was promoted, I think, was the fact that I had to start communicating with a lot of different people outside of our organization and find the best approach for each one so that all the parties involved are happy. As I said above, it was a time when I had to decide which “road” I should go and surprisingly, the decision did not come so hard. I like the fact that it is a very comprehensive field, in which I can apply some of my theoretical knowledge from college, but also that I can learn the involvement of economics in this market. I like that now I can understand the Clients’ needs and I can help them solving problems while I still manage to learn a lot from every process. I think that the accumulated experience is a stepping-stone for my career in the real estate industry. I want to stay in this field as there are many things I still have to learn and I want to have the same approach, enjoying every moment.”
With her cheerful attitude and colorful smile, Roxana is our successful example of enthusiasm and resourcefulness. She’s had the courage to take the first steps in such a lively industry so early on, carrying the weight of a huge workload and making it seem so effortless, that we can only foresee a bright future for her. Her advice for those wishing to follow a similar path is short and comprehensive:
“Be curious! Learn as much as possible because you always have something new to learn and you can grow both professionally and personally only by accepting new challenges.”
Roxana will design her career path wonderfully with her talent and determination – the initial drafts already look amazing.
In the meantime, we’ll be waiting for Corina tell us about her journey, next week!