CBRE Summer Intern Shares Insights and Lessons Learned

August 30, 2023 3 Minute Read

Rachel Friedman @CBRE

I’m Rachael Friedman and I know firsthand how challenging the world feels for young people right now.

But let me offer some hope.

I just completed my first year of university and spent the summer as an intern at CBRE in downtown Toronto. The last four months have taught me a lot about myself and made me excited about my career prospects.

CBRE Summer Intern group in downtown Toronto
Rachael Friedman (third from the left) and the other CBRE interns atop Scotia Plaza in Toronto.

For people like me looking for some direction when it comes to work and life, here’s what I’ve learned this summer.

My first day at CBRE, I was incredibly intimidated by the people I was working with. As time went on, I learned more about myself through listening to other people’s stories and advice.

I decided to go on dozens of coffee chats with people who work at CBRE, in the real estate industry and beyond, to learn what I can do to better myself and be successful in a dynamic and competitive industry like commercial real estate.

If you haven’t mastered the coffee circuit just yet, let me share some insights. Three main points stood out to me. I think they are applicable for anyone deciding what they want to do for work and looking to improve themselves.

  1. Your reputation. This has to do with the work you put out and how you interact with everyone you come across. First impressions are always important, but so is everything you do after! Most people I’ve talked to have said that they act like the person they would want to work with. The baseline is to be yourself, nice and trustworthy. On top of this, find something to be known for, such as being creative, a deal-getter, a strong presenter, a great communicator, a leader, etc. There are many others competing for the same job who have similar qualifications, so find what makes you memorable and unique. And that doesn’t mean making it up; just be who you are and own it.
  2. Your needs. Knowing what you want from your career and lifestyle will help you succeed and find the right path. Look back at your experiences with people, school, and other jobs, and consider what you enjoyed and didn’t. That awareness can help guide you toward the right type of industry, role, or company for you. For example, I want to work with people or clients and have access to creativity and movement. With those guidelines in mind, I can search for roles that align with them. Rather than searching for a specific job, this framework simplifies the process of determining my future career. It also makes the path ahead slightly less intimidating, and what young job seeker doesn’t want that?
  3. The company you keep. Working at a company where there is a culture and environment that works for you is key to determining how you’ll perform. That was a big contributor to my enjoyment this summer. There are many different types of people and personalities that thrive in varying ways. Finding a job where you are challenged, and learning from the people surrounding you, can only help you to be better. Always look to align yourself with people who want to see you succeed and in an environment that makes you stronger.

I still have a lot to experience and decisions to make, but my summer at CBRE put me in touch with some enduring principles that will help guide me going forward.

CBRE Summer Intern group in downtown Toronto office
CBRE's interns, including Rachael Friedman, seen at far right.

Not only have I learned a lot about commercial real estate, but I’m clearer about who I am, what I value, and what my value is.

Suddenly, figuring out what I want to do for a living seems less daunting.

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