participate in CREW Careers. Each city’s
chapter runs their CREW Careers program
slightly differently, modifying it to their
local market. The Dallas chapter had to
convince the school system that it was an
educational project providing experiences
students would not get in the classroom.
Preparing well in advance, CREW
Careers organizers select an actual commercial property for which students must
plan a redevelopment. At the end of the
day, they make presentations before
judges—community sponsors associated
with the property.
On the day of the program, about 30
CREW Dallas volunteers are assigned
teams of eight juniors and seniors in high
school. The students decide what their
roles for the day will be. They take on commercial real estate positions such as the
architect, accountant, project manager or
designer. The CREW leaders explain each
job function and guide the process.
One year the subject property was a
school that had sat vacant for several years.
The building had historic value, was in a
prime location and several newspapers had
written about it. “We thought that would be
so cool to have this as our property subject
matter, with Dallas Independent School
District students solving the problem of
what the community should create with this
old Dallas high school,” recalls Hopkins.
After touring the site, the students went
back to their teams to decide whether they
should develop a multifamily, industrial or
mixed-use property. Using STEM-related
skills, they calculated numbers on spread-sheets. “They get to pretend they’re real
estate developers for the day,” says Hopkins.
After presenting the plans, a winning
team is selected and takes home a trophy.
Hopkins hopes bright students will be
inspired to pursue careers in commercial
real estate. But she also enjoys seeing them
simply learn about the world. “Oftentimes
if they see that there’s a Kinkos sign outside,
they think that Kinkos owns the building.
They don’t understand that they’re leasing
it and that there is another operator that’s
owning it and charging rent,” she says. “It
changes how they think about the city in
which they live.”
Building off the Dallas experience,
CREW Network developed templates for
one-day or multi-week programs, which can
be customized for different chapters. It
includes information about various disci-
plines and introductions to mentors. The
pilot program started in 2005 with 10 chap-
ters and formally rolled out in 2006.
UCREW: THE HIRE EDUCATION
The popularity of CREW Careers led members to create a program suitable for universities and junior colleges. In 2005, the
CREW Network University Task Force was
created. After gathering input from female
students across the country, in 2007 CREW
Network created a UCREW pilot.
Each of the chapters can adapt the
UCREW program to fit its local market.
The general format resembles a speed-dat-ing event. It exposes students to eight disciplines: development, finance, brokerage,
appraisal, law, life insurance, asset management and property management. CREW
members sit at separate tables organized by
each of the subjects. For 12-minute rounds,
they talk to the students about their careers.
After the time is up, the CREW volunteers
rotate to the next table of students.
Courtney Keller, a shareholder at the law
firm Greenberg Traurig, is the current
director of Orlando’s UCREW. She also sits
on the chapter’s board of directors.
Following the event, the chapter surveys
the students. “Each year they have over-
whelmingly said that the most valuable part
for them is our smaller roundtable discus-
sions with industry professionals,” says
Keller. “We like to pair about 10 to 15 stu-
dents with two to three CREW Orlando
members who talk about what they do and
how they got to where they are.”
September 21 will mark Orlando’s 7th
UCREW program, which had started with
about 20 students but has since grown to
Jennifer Pollock, VP of commercial lending at Valley National Bank, was the director of UCREW Orlando for the past two
years and currently serves on the CREW
Orlando board. She says UCREW takes a
“targeted team approach.” Long before the
event, CREW cultivates buy-in of university
career counselors, CRE-related professors
(in fields such as engineering, business,
accounting, law, design), trustees and student organizations.
A committee member will also work on
obtaining sponsorship dollars. Pollock
hopes to build deeper relationships with
all the participating universities because
the event highly benefits students. But the
internships and job shadowing is what
truly brings students in through the door.
“Our CREW membership companies
really need to come through for us each
year on this front and if they do, it is the
UCREW committee members’ job to pro-
vide them with quality candidates, so they
won’t feel they’ve wasted their time or
energy,” says Pollock.
To date, the CREW Network Foundation
has provided 126 scholarships totaling
$860,000. It’s a highly competitive process.
In 2018, of the 131 applications submitted,
20 students received $5,000 scholarships.
An average of 10 scholarships have been
granted each year from 2008 through 2015.
In 2016, and 2017, the foundation awarded
15 scholarships. To celebrate the foundation’s 20th anniversary, this year it boosted
the number of awards to 20.
Donations raised by individuals, chapters and organizations fund the scholarships. CREW Network solicits gifts throughout the year and hosts a major fundraiser at
its annual convention. Local chapters also
host fundraising events, with luncheons,
raffles and other activities.
The chapters that are founding donors
to the Foundation endowment are part of
the scholarship selection committee. The
committee, which currently has 30 seats,
selects the scholars to recommend to the
CREW Network board in June each year.
Katherine DeMercurio, who works at
EverGreene Architectural Arts, and serves
on the board of directors as the chair of the
Foundation Committee for CREW New
York, explains the local philanthropy is to
advance the mission of the CREW Network
and its foundation.
All of the chapters host many local programs and events. For example, the New
York members engage in scholarship
events, and mock interviews. It supports
drives to donate suits to Bottomless Closet,
an organization that helps women who’ve
suffered financial setbacks get back into the
workforce. New York’s pilot UCREW is
scheduled to launch in October 2018. ◆