How to transition into graduate school | Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate combined degree program

John Farese

By John Farese, BS Construction Management ’18, MSRE ’19

The transition into graduate school as a junior is a new and exciting experience for any combined degree student. I vividly remember how it felt when I heard about the combined degree program while in the University of Florida Rinker School of Construction Management. At the time, I was managing a bustling academic schedule and construction management extra-curricular activities so I was hesitant about taking on graduate school responsibilities. But within a matter of weeks, all those doubts vanished thanks to the welcoming and informative environment at the UF Bergstrom Real Estate Center.

While starting the Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) program was a big adjustment in my student career, I am honored to share some of my most valuable experiences to incoming students to help with the transition.

Get involved early

Even before applying to the MSRE program, the Real Estate Society welcomes undergraduate students & the Ring Speaker Series welcomes anyone who wants to learn about commercial real estate. The more you go to these events, the more you’ll know if the MSRE program is for you!

Once accepted into the MSRE program, it may be overwhelming as professors pass out syllabi showcasing course material. However, it’s imperative that you get involved and immerse yourself early on. After speaking with MSRE alumni, their biggest regret is not embracing extra-curricular learning, lectures, field trips and networking opportunities sooner. Interacting with some of top real estate influencers around the country is a great privilege. Additionally, I have connected with peers that have similar ambitions and career pursuits, well-respected faculty and the numerous Advisory Board members who have been huge mentors to me and are great personal assets due to their years of industry experience.

Step outside of your comfort zone

Meeting new people can seem intimidating, but we are all in the same boat. By stepping out of my comfort zone and networking, I, fortunately, met Chris Bayer, interviewed and earned an impressive internship opportunity with Greystar during the summer of 2018.

I am most proud of bearing the level of immersion the program offers each student. Each business professional that associates with the MSRE program through the Advisory Board generously offers their time and valuable advice. Interactions with Advisory Board members through the Ring Speaker series, Bergstrom Real Estate Center events, industry events and class visits are priceless. Building relationships with these individuals will result in a vast Rolodex to leverage upon graduation.

Be persistent and you will thrive

This program is not only a time to learn scholastically, but it’s a time to grow as a person. The community aspects of the MSRE program are as valuable as the academics. The MSRE structure will teach you to find new limits that translate to the professional workload we are faced with upon graduation. The program offers the next best evolution from my construction undergraduate studies to understanding the development process.

I am thankful to have found a program that pairs well with a construction management undergraduate degree and offers a natural bridge from the design and construction side to the quantitative financial side. The combination of these hard skills paired with the emphasis on soft skills in the MSRE program has opened up doors I could never have imagined were possible.

Pursue your dreams

Taking on the combine degree as a junior gave me ample time to get acquainted with the program’s requirements, interact with Advisory Board members and lighten my overall class load, a real win-win.

In addition, the MSRE program creates events for students to connect with senior level individuals on a regular basis. Adding this into my schedule was challenging, but worth the possible job offers many MSRE alumni have received in years past.

My Rinker education primed me for the practicality involved in the preliminary stages of development and during the design and construction process. After I graduate, I plan to move to the Tampa Bay area and join an elite team of developers to focus on revolutionizing the retail development industry.


Interested in learning how you can bolster your undergraduate degree with a Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate? Click here to request information about the MSRE program at the Warrington College of Business.