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Internship program seeks to increase diversity in real estate profession

“I really think getting them in high school is the way to go because, from everything I read, there’s more and more young people deciding not to go to college for many reasons,” said Diana Pittro, executive vice president of RMK Management Corp.

Several real estate agents and companies in Chicago are reportedly working with local high schools to help the next generation of realtors gain access and exposure before college.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the nonprofit Urban Alliance is one such initiative that offers workforce readiness training and mentoring to Chicago youth through its signature High School Internship Program. The organization’s Property Management Pathway program (PMP) provides high school seniors considering a career in real estate with “professional skills training as well as industry training certified by the National Apartment Association,” per the website. 

Looking for your next career move and passionate about economic advancement for young people? We’re #hiring, check out this thread:
Apply at: https://t.co/7W5pnSpSp6 pic.twitter.com/vGERytIKm5

— Urban Alliance (@UrbanAlliance) February 23, 2022

The program is open to students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools and recent graduates of Baltimore City Public Schools. Participants can focus on either leasing or maintenance and “earn a Certified Apartment Leasing Professional (CALP) credential or a Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT) credential,” per the website. 

“When you think about the industries that Urban Alliance is exposing young people to in terms of careers, these are conversations that oftentimes are not happening in friend groups, in family households and communities,” said Jonathan Hill, an Urban Alliance alumnus who is as a community engagement lead at Chicago-based software development firm Relativity. According to the Chicago Tribune, Hill’s organization sponsors Urban Alliance interns.

“This organization is being that steppingstone, that voice, that advocates for them to expose them early to something that they don’t know — that kind of curation of development is one in a million. We need more of it,” Hill continued.

High school seniors enrolled in the Property Management Pathway program are paid for their work and receive class credit. Their certification training is followed by a six-to-eight-month internship. During the school year, the students are required to work 12 hours per week and 32 hours per week after graduation. 

“Leasing just excited me,” 17-year-old Lilian Rosales tells the Chicago Tribune. The Chicago Lawn resident is a senior at Muchin College Prep and an Urban Alliance intern. “With leasing, you create a great sense of community and a warm feeling of family. People come in looking for a home and we have a community that feels like home. That’s really great,” she continued.

The Willis Tower (C), formerly known as the Sears Tower on March 4, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois. The building is now up for sale. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Per the report, Rosales’ internship is with Chicago-based apartment management firm RMK Management Corp.

“I really think getting them in high school is the way to go because, from everything I read, there’s more and more young people deciding not to go to college for many reasons,” said Diana Pittro, executive vice president of RMK Management Corp. The company has three interns, including Rosales, according to the report.

Collete English Dixon, executive director of Roosevelt University’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, who has worked in the industry for the last 40 years, often visits high schools to talk to students about careers in real estate. 

“Finally, the industry has come to the conclusion that lack of diversity is a problem,” Dixon told the Tribune. “And if we really want to make a change, we can’t wait for these young people to show up at college. We need to get them before they start making decisions about what their futures are going to be.”

In 2018, Urban Alliance teamed with the Obama Foundation to launch the Obama Youth Jobs Corps for Chicago high schoolers living in South Side communities.

Some of Urban Alliance’s valued Chicago partners include Allstate, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Edward and Jennifer Magnus Schwab Charitable Fund, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Hyatt, Pritzker Foundation, and Whole Foods Market, among others.

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