Blackstone Real Estate Aims New Diversity Effort at College Sophomores

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Blackstone (BX) Real Estate is taking its internal and industry-wide diversity efforts to a new level through a program launching this January aimed at college sophomores.

The inaugural weeklong Blackstone Real Estate Leaders Program,  running Jan. 8 through Jan. 12 in New York City, will be geared toward providing “historically underrepresented, high-potential undergraduate students” exposure to careers in the real estate investment industry. Eric Wu, chief operating officer of Blackstone’s Real Estate Americas division, said the initiative originated from conversations with colleagues in early 2023 about ways to continue building the talent pipeline for people historically underrepresented in real estate. 

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“It really started from people on the team leaning into the idea of having more diversity and wanting to start a program that was specifically targeted to historically underrepresented undergraduate students within real estate investing,” Wu said. “It was a ground-up program that was developed by people at Blackstone wanting to really move the needle on diversity here and within the industry itself.” 

The launch is not altogether altruistic, as Wu said the company hopes some of the program’s graduates ultimately land at Blackstone during their career. The program will begin with a small  cohort of approximately 10 students, an intentionally small size designed so that participants and Blackstone real estate leaders can have as much interaction as possible. 

To promote the program, Blackstone has contacted a number of colleges that the company typically recruits from and is also communicating with industry network groups such as Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) and Scholars of Finance. Housing will be provided by Blacksone for all participating students as a way of opening up the candidate field well beyond the New York region. 

As far as long-term goals for the program, Wu said he wants participating students to thrive in the commercial real estate profession whether at Blackstone or another firm. While the program will focus heavily on the investment side of commercial real estate at Blackstone Real Estate, Wu stressed that there also will be opportunities to highlight other career opportunities in the industry. Those might include the acquisitions, asset management and capital markets sides of commercial real estate. 

By targeting college sophomores, the program aims to help educate students about what a career in real estate investing involves prior to any formal internship and recruitment process, Wu said. Blackstone’s summer intern program typically lasts 10 weeks for students in their third year of college or first year of graduate business school.

While participation in the program does not guarantee students admission into Blackstone’s internship program, Wu said the program will help  lay a strong foundation for mentoring the next generation of CRE professionals.

“Our goal is to find people that are interested in real estate, teach them what we do here and how we do it, and then also give them some insight into what skills they need to develop to be a successful employee at Blackstone and then broadly within the real estate industry,” Wu said. 

“If they’re lucky enough to get an internship here and then become a full-time analyst, or they go someplace else and get an internship, instead of spending the first weeks and months learning the skill sets, they already know what they need to know and hopefully they’re starting with a running start.”