Caroline Bentlage STEP Reflection

The intention of my STEP project was to obtain my Ohio Real Estate Licensing and complete a summer internship at a real estate firm. I obtained my licensure in the beginning of the summer and over the course of the following months, I helped agents in all aspects of the real estate business. I worked with both buyers and sellers, and commercial and residential properties.

At the beginning of the project, I expected the lifestyle of a real estate agent would be a major aspect of the business that I would enjoy. As an agent, you make your own hours and schedule. I grew up with both of my parents working 9-5 jobs and during the work week, their schedules were run by their jobs. However, I learned that although you can choose your own schedule, it is mainly run by your clients. I found myself working late nights and weekends, an aspect I found to be extremely unappealing. As someone who really values spending time with my family, I felt as if this aspect of my life was lacking this summer.

Growing up, my parents always taught me that higher education is a non-negotiable. I always knew that I would go to college and complete my degree. However, many of the people I worked with this summer did not have a college degree. One of the agents that I worked most closely with, Bill Snow, never completed his college degree. To my surprise, he was one of the wisest and most successful people I have ever met. I learned so much from him this summer.

My interactions with my boss taught me how important work-life balance is. As an intern, I felt as though I was expected to work long nights and weekends to simulate the experiences of a young realtor. However, I was not building a client book or making sales to fulfill the rewarding aspect of the hard work. I was helping other agents with their clients, assisting buyers and sellers. While I learned a lot from this, I felt as though I was lacking family-time.

In turn, I learned how truly important this aspect of my life is. This summer marked my older brother’s last summer at home before he moved to New York City for a full-time job. I was really hoping to spend time with him before he left and make lasting memories. However, I was very disappointed with how much time my job took out of my life. I missed family reunions and more as a result. I truly recognized how important spending time with loved ones is to my personal happiness.

My relationship with my coworker, Bill Snow, taught me how much you can learn from someone. With a background in Oil and Gas, I did not think we would have much in common at the start of the summer. However, he ended up taking me under his wing and teaching me beyond what I imagined I could learn. Bill mainly worked on the commercial end of the real estate business, a side that I did not expect to have much interest in. However, the tasks he assigned me to ended up being the most exciting projects I worked on throughout the summer.

The lessons I learned as a result of my position at Stouffer Realty have given me more direction in my career. While I am not planning to pursue real estate post-graduation, I spent time reflecting on what aspects of the business I did enjoy. Working directly with clients taught me how much I truly enjoy working with people and understanding their needs. The unstructured aspect of my summer taught me that a 9-5 job is more fitting to my lifestyle. While it would be nice to build my own schedule, I cherish family time on the weekends and evenings. Now, I am looking for more of a corporate role analyzing consumer behavior.

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