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2023-24 Ferguson Fellow Audrey Ochsner

The Runstad Department of Real Estate has partnered with the Ferguson Center for Leadership Excellence program. This program helps racially, ethnically and gender diverse students earn undergraduate degrees and secure promising careers in real estate and related sectors by offering tuition support, mentorship, and career services.

Nikita Anderson recently interviewed Audrey Ochsner, who is our first Ferguson Fellow. Audrey is pursuing a dual degree in Real Estate and Spanish literature. She is currently in her third year, with an expected graduation date of Spring 2025.

Could you please provide an overview of your real estate fellowship program?

As a Ferguson Fellow, I am offered the opportunity to grow into a leader in the Real Estate industry by attending personal growth meetings, monthly one-on-one coaching sessions, and exploring various mentorship opportunities.

Can you describe your day-to-day responsibilities as a fellow? What types of tasks have you been assigned?

The end goal for the fellowship is to enter into a career where we will use the skills we are taught to become confident leaders in our field. To accomplish this we are tasked with completing modules centered around building our personal brand and developing lifelong skills that will be applicable in both the workplace and our personal lives.

I know your mentorship pairing is just getting started. What are you most looking forward to regarding your mentorship pairing? What are you looking to take away from the experience?

As we begin the introduction phase to developing relationships with our mentors, I am most looking forward to finding someone that can help guide me to finding a specific field that both challenges and inspires me on a daily basis. Through this experience, I hope to both build a strong mentor-mentee relationship, and a better understanding of what daily life can look like for a professional in Real Estate.

What have you learned about the real estate market through your fellowship? Are there any specific trends or opportunities that stand out to you?

Within the past few years, it has become apparent that technological advancements, including AI are changing many industries, including Real Estate. While some may say that AI will get rid of the need to have appraisers or market analysis, I disagree. One of my biggest takeaways is that while we can use AI to help with many of the sectors, there are certain parts of each job that can only be efficiently done by a person, and the best way to get ahead is to learn how to work with technology rather than trying to avoid it.

What skills and knowledge have you acquired during your fellowship? Have there been any specific training programs or workshops that have been valuable to your growth?

So far, the most valuable resource has been access to a personal coach. My coach has helped me to identify what goals I have and what I can bring to the table. With her guidance, I have been able to develop a long-term plan that focuses on using my strengths in order to be successful.

What have been some of the challenges you have encountered during your fellowship? How did you overcome them and what did you learn from these experiences?

One of my biggest challenges has been self-reflecting on what I am able to do, and what needs work. Additionally, it can be difficult to look at my goals and passions, and to be able to reflect on the reason why I want to pursue a specific path.

How has the fellowship program helped you build a professional network in real estate? Are there any specific individuals or organizations you have connected with that have significantly contributed to your growth?

The program has helped me to meet people in the industry from all over the country, including fellow students, as well as professionals that can offer us guidance as we prepare to graduate and enter the workforce. I have yet to meet my mentor, but over the past weeks we have been preparing for our introductions and I am thrilled to begin the mentoring process.

What are your long-term career goals in real estate? What do you hope to achieve after completing your fellowship?

I do not know exactly what sector of Real Estate I want to enter into, but I know that I love projects that involve analytical analysis and working with a team of professionals. My end goal for this fellowship is to determine what opportunities would allow me to involve both of those passions, and to be able to enter the workplace as a confident, dependable employee.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to students who might be interested in pursuing a real estate fellowship?

My biggest piece of advice to future fellows is to look at the fellowship as an opportunity for personal growth rather than an academic task. This program is designed to help students like me become confident individuals that will eventually become leaders in their industry.