Caroline Blackmore: Thinking past class
When walking down a city street, you might not wonder about how all the businesses wound up in their respective buildings. However, for Caroline Blackmore, it’s her job.
She currently works for Carr Companies, a small brokerage firm that owns and manages interests in over 40 commercial and retail assets in markets across the country. However, she not only specializes in brokerage, but she also assists with sections of the company such as property management, lease abstract and stacking plans. Blackmore learned the importance of a broad repertoire of skills from the start of her career.
Blackmore originally worked as a marketing industry engagement coordinator for Virginia Tech’s Blackwood Program in Real Estate. After she moved on to Carr companies, she is appreciative of the skills she learned at her first job, such as connecting with people, and writing articles. Both of these skills translated into advanced networking skills as well as the ability to send well-worded emails to brokers.
She appreciates the unique perspectives subsequently gained by working in commercial real estate. Commercial real estate incorporates a bigger picture mindset of helping businesses find buildings that are the right fit for their needs. Blackmore gets to know both the business, and the building inside and out during the process.
“I really like getting to know the intricacies of a building,” Blackmore said, “Right now I’m inside 1455 Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s a very historical building and I’ve gotten to know it inside and out. I’ve gotten to know the history of the building. I’m not even a history buff, but when I get to tell people the term 'lobbyist’ was coined here — that’s pretty neat.”
Blackmore was inspired by her mother who worked in residential real estate, and her grandfather who had holdings in commercial real estate. She found that commercial real estate was something she believed she could succeed at.
She spoke fondly of her Virginia Tech real estate degree: “I liked the fact that the academic program was so young, that it was small and everybody knew each other. It made Virginia Tech a little smaller so it was nice.”
The program has since been split into two majors, residential development and investment, and commercial development and investment, specializing the department more and allowing students to become even more knowledgeable about their respective fields.
“I think that especially if you’re a development associate or something along those lines it [the academic program] would definitely prepare you well, but for brokerage I felt like I had an extra leg up,” Blackmore said about her real estate degree.
She remembered when she was starting her job, her boss questioned her on different real estate terms and was impressed when she already knew them. Blackmore had taken time before her job at Carr Companies to read through her book on Real Estate Principles from her time as an undergraduate.
Our interview concluded with Blackmore’s parting advice for any undergraduate student:
“I think that people don’t realize that this is stuff you’ll be using in your career. You don’t need to just pass the class, you need to know this for when you start your job. This is going to be stuff that sets you ahead of everybody else. You need to think outside of college for a second and envision yourself in the future and what you’ll be using from this class. Even if it does not apply to the job that you think you want. For myself, I thought this job was just going to be leasing but I’m working with our development team, our acquisitions and our asset management team all the time. Those are things I needed to know. It would have been a lot easier to know all of this stuff if I had considered the importance of these topics rather than just passing the classes.”