By Joshua Feigin, Business Editor
The following is an excerpt from a conversational interview between Joshua Feigin (JF) and real estate manager Shira Simchon (SS):
JF: Hi, can you introduce yourself?
SS: Sure, my name is Shira Simchon. I live in Brooklyn, attend Penn State online where I am studying business administration. In my free time, I like to sing and am president of an acapella group. I also enjoy cooking and traveling.
JF: Can you tell me about where you currently work?
SS: I work at a real estate management office in Brooklyn, that owns forty buildings and deals with the affairs of the tenants. We are also developing new buildings. Our company oversees the entire leasing process beginning with marketing new units, finding applicants, and maintaining the day to day affairs of our properties.
JF: What is your role within the company?
SS: Due to the small size of the company, I take on multiple departmental roles that would typically be split amongst more employees. Personally, I run the mortgage and insurance departments, scheduling maintenance, drafting leases, and much of the backend expense tracking.
JF: Where did you learn the skills to do all these things?
SS: That’s a great question. About a year ago when I first started at my current position, I had very little knowledge of real estate. Perhaps the only transferable skill I had was my knowledge of Excel. However, as my firm is small and I was a quick learner, I was given intensive hands-on training and grew into my role quite quickly, as many responsibilities needed to be taken care of. My boss and coworkers supported my learning and were responsive with feedback.
JF: If you barely had relevant experience, how is it that you even found this role and thought to apply?
SS: I previously worked as a head waitress, where I in a sense also acted as a manager of a multifaceted operation. I bounced around between a few positions in the restaurant industry, but I felt like I was hitting a dead end and wanted to transition into a more serious long term career with stability. I knew that I always liked real estate. In fact, sometimes I browse around on Zillow or StreetEasy and I am passionate about interior design as well. Anyways, I stumbled upon a secretarial position posting on a job recruiting website that did not require any previous experience and that offered training. That posting was at my current company. After a few months, I was looking to develop my skills more and they were happy to have someone assist.
JF: It sounds like you have everything so figured out and perfectly integrated in your life. How did you get to this point? What advice would you give to fellow students and young professionals?
SS: Although I am quite satisfied now with how everything is working out, not everything always clicked into place so well. When my high school classes were on Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic period, I realized that I enjoyed learning at more of my own pace. I also felt disconnected from the school and many of my classmates, so I decided to pursue an expedited graduation. I then chose to attend Montclair State University, and spent a year there before being able to go to school in New York closer to home. I went to Baruch, also for a semester, until I realized that I once again wanted more independence, flexibility, and a like-minded social group. It was a coincidence that I saw a flier for my choir at Baruch, which motivated me to apply. The choir provided and still does provide me with a nice artistic and social atmosphere, while Penn State offers a flexible education while I gain practical work experience. Point being, it was a bit of a crazy few years bouncing around between schools and jobs until I found what worked best for me. And who knows what the future brings? I would share with fellow students that they should not be afraid to try new things and branch out. This age is a great time to develop one’s self and discover new passions, people, perspectives, and experiences. As long as you have a goal in mind, be it short term or long term, you are on the right track.