Name: Renae Anderson
City: Garland, TX
Occupation: Realtor at The Anderson Team – Ambiance Realty
Samantha Shaddock: I met you when you were on The Dallas Morning News‘ developer team. Right now there’s a huge push for more women in STEM fields. What were you doing before, and why did you choose to leave your tech job for real estate?
Renae Anderson: That is true – STEM fields are huge right now. Even my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop emphasizes these types of jobs with badges and field trips. I do feel that I was an asset to the Dallas Morning News as well as the American Heart Association, my employer before that. When I graduated from DeVry University in 2011 with a bachelors of science in multimedia design and development, I prepared myself to work a few years as an entry-level developer and move up into technology project management. What I found, however, was that to move up in the companies where I worked, you really have to be with the company for 10 to 15 years.
Like a lot college students, I tended bar while getting my degree. So I was accustomed to knowing many people in town and having FUN at work. As a web developer I sat day in and day out behind a computer with little face-to-face interaction with other people. While technology gave me a special skill set that is an asset in any field, I didn’t really enjoy 90% of my day-to-day work. I chose real estate as a career change because I saw an untapped market where I could continue to use my “techie” background and really do well at it. Also, I saw an opportunity to get to know my community, meet new people, and help others all while having FUN at my job. And that was something that was very important to me.
SS: How did you gear up for the move? What steps did you take to switch careers?
RA: I think making the decision is really the hardest part. Changing from a salaried position to an all-commission job was scary! But once I overcame that hurdle the rest was timing — and to be honest, money. I decided to get my license a year and a half before I even quit my job. I started classes in December and then tested in April (it was a longer process because I did it part time). By May I was with my first brokerage attempting to work at real estate while still working full time elsewhere. It was not an easy process because clients often wanted to view homes while I was at my other job. So it was definitely a slow go during that period. Eventually, however, I was able to close a few deals. Since both I and my husband had other jobs, all my real estate earnings went to savings. My goal was to have $20,000 cash in savings and then I would make my move. Well, that took a year because I also paid off other debts I had, to be on the safe side. After I reached my goal I gave my two weeks’ notice, and I jumped!
SS: How did your family and friends react when you decided to change careers?
RA: I have the most amazing and supportive family! They saw that I wasn’t that happy in the technology field, so when I brought up moving to real estate, my mom, being the avid HGTV watcher that she is, said, “Oh, I always thought you would be amazing at that!” I think she is my biggest fan! My husband and I had a goal to do some real estate investing, so this was a perfect and logical first step towards that for us. And he is happy if I am happy. What can I say — I am a lucky lady!
SS: How is life different for you now that you’re not working a desk job? Is it harder in some ways? Easier or better in others?
RA: Life is definitely different. One thing that I wouldn’t change for the world is getting to take my daughter to and from school each day, and not having to worry if after-school care is cancelled or if there is an early release day or a field trip I might miss. It’s easier because I really do make my own schedule and take only the jobs I want to take.
It’s harder, too. Some days I am working a contract until the early hours of the morning to make sure my clients don’t miss deadlines. And some days I am negotiating contracts at the dinner table. And while I have the power to choose whether I take a job, sometimes my bills decide that I HAVE to take a job. 🙂
Still, I like that I don’t have to ask permission to go pick up my sick kid from school. So in that sense it is much better. Also, I am an entrepreneur at heart. I like knowing that I am building my business one contract at a time — sometimes five at a time. And that makes me feel good! My daughter sees that following a dream and working hard really do make a difference.
SS: Any advice you’d give other women who want to switch careers?
RA: Know your personal limitations and your boundaries. While it’s good to push yourself beyond those, it’s also good to acknowledge them. I think that it really helps you stay sane, and stay the course. Sometimes it is so much easier to just give up, but then you don’t reap the rewards of a job well done. Even patting yourself on the back is a big deal if you are unhappy where you currently are because you get used to being miserable. Set goals. Give yourself a realistic time frame (or as in my case, a dollar amount). Then just push, push, push. One day you will be like, “Wow! If I can get to this goal, there is no stopping me from really reaching that next goal.”
SS: Any advice you’d give women who want to get into real estate, specifically?
RA: Know that it is NOT really like “House Hunters” — or any other show on HGTV, for that matter. This “job” is really more like starting a business from scratch. You have to be everything in your company: the marketing department, the designer, the outbound sales rep, the customer service line, the cleaning staff, the data entry clerk, the sales person, the face of the company … and so much more.
You can really do anything your mind is set to. I got a slow start because I was scared to just jump; I like to get my feet wet first. My work as a part-time agent really didn’t do much for building my business, but it did build my confidence. My first seven months as a full-time agent were a huge flop, but I kept at it, and all my hard work paid off. Now I close between three and five deals a month. Also, keep a schedule. People say that all the time, but in this field it is really the MOST important thing. It’s so easy to do laundry while binge-watching Pretty Little Liars on Netflix rather than working if you aren’t careful.
SS: What’s the gutsiest thing you’ve ever done?
RA: Going back to college. I got married really young and had a child and forgot all about college in my late teens and early 20s. Going to college as a single parent is hard. Most days all you want to do is give up and just work your job and live paycheck to paycheck. Staying with it felt pretty gutsy, and it totally paid off!
SS: What’s something you wish you’d had the guts to do at some point in your life and 1) what held you back and 2) how would you handle things differently today?
RA: I think there are little things I wish I had the guts to do — mostly speaking up. People tend to think that I am quiet, but the truth is I am not. I have lots to say and lots to contribute. Especially when I worked for other people, I felt like I wasn’t given the opportunities that I should have received because I let them think that I wasn’t as good as my peers. I know it’s because I didn’t speak up and say, “Hey, I can do that, AND I can make it better.” I guess what held me back was the fear of failing or being wrong and looking bad. I would handle things differently today because since my move to real estate I have gained so much more confidence in myself and in my abilities. I would speak up, because I’m not afraid of failing or being wrong anymore, because I see that these things don’t make you less of a person or less qualified, they just teach you lessons that make you more qualified.