Is there any way for me to gain experience as a college student?
This is a terrible question. Seriously, you’re setting yourself up for failure from the get-go with this mentality.
The question needs to be, “How can I gain experience as a college student?”
This simple mindset tweak is one that will serve you well for the rest of your life. I first heard this in Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad. He said that we need to train ourselves to think, “How can I afford this?” rather than saying, “I can’t afford this.”
One of these questions puts up barriers and gives yourself an excuse to not find a solution. The other forces you to get creative and find a solution.
With that said, here’s how you can definitely gain experience in real estate—no matter how young or old you may be.
6 Ways to Gain Experience as a College Student
I often hear people use age as an excuse.
They say things like, “I was going to do X, but I’ve got time.” Or they think, “I’m young. I can plan for retirement later.”
The aged-based excuses take many forms, and I was once (regrettably) of the same mindset.
My friend Jake Volin says that he feels the opposite is true—and I believe he is correct! I wish I had bought into this sooner.
Many like Jake have cracked the code to success at an early age and used this to skyrocket themselves to success. Don’t wait. Start taking action to better your situation today!
Here are a few of the simplest steps I can recommend for you.
The very first thing you can do is increase your savings gap. Your savings gap is the percentage of your income that you are able to save.
For instance, if you earn $1,000/month and only spend $600/month, you have $400/month left over. This equals a 40 percent savings gap, also known as the savings rate.
This is important because when you earn $1,000 it is taxed. When you SAVE $1,000 after you already paid taxes on the income, you get to keep it all!
For this reason, slashing your expenses and living frugally is a huge way to start saving more money!
Now, I know this doesn’t sound easy as a “poor college student,” but understand that pennies become dollars.
Stop what you’re doing and complete a personal financial statement. You can find a couple of variations on the internet, but ultimately you just need to be able to track what you spent every dollar on last month. This will allow you to see exactly where your money is going.
Save as much as humanly possible! The more you save now, the more prepared you will be to buy your first property.
2. Earn extra income
With the exceptions of some very demanding programs, like military academies, you have time to earn some extra money at college.
The problem is that we fill this time with partying, chasing tail, and playing video games. Or maybe you don’t waste time with these activities but instead stress too much about grades or social status.
Whatever the excuse, it is beneficial to learn some time management skills and find time for a side hustle.
Some of my favorite side hustles are driving for Uber/Lyft and delivery jobs (pizza, groceries, etc.). Alternatively, you could simply get an hourly job close to school.
Be careful not to overwork though. You’ll need to have time and energy for the rest of these steps, too!
The reason Uber and delivery jobs are my favorites is because you will spend a lot of time in the car. More time in the car equals more time to listen to audiobooks and podcasts!
During this initial learning phase, you want to absorb as much content as possible via books, audiobooks, podcasts, and local meetups. The more you learn, the better!
Read real estate investing books and personal development books, then listen to some real estate and business podcasts, too. I have spent days listening to audiobooks and the BiggerPockets podcast, absorbing as much information as possible!
Take note of any word, phrase, acronym, or concept you don’t understand in order to search Google for an explanation later. By learning as much as you can and taking the time to fill the gaps with search engines, you will build a solid educational base, with very little money out of pocket.
Also, some schools offer real estate programs. I have earned an associate’s degree in real estate studies, which is basically enough information to help you become a real estate agent. I don’t believe this degree is necessary at all for real estate investors, but I’m in the military and it was free, so why not!
Building a network is one of (if not THE) most beneficial things you can do as a new investor. It’s also one of the most affordable!
Look up local real estate investor meetups on the BiggerPockets events page, Meetup.com, or Facebook, and then start attending them.
Most meetups are free (or super affordable) to attend and last two to three hours in the evening. Some of these events will have guest speakers; others will be less structured.
The important thing is that you get out and attend as many of these networking events as possible. Don’t pretend you know everything either—nobody wants to help the guy who has it all figured out.
Show up, be honest about where you’re at (a newbie), and be humble. Ask questions to get others talking about themselves, their projects, and their current struggles in business (this will be key later).
One of the best ways to network is to learn as much about the other person as possible, and then follow up with them in a couple of days. If you have a solution to one of their problems, provide it! Even just a simple “thank you for X” will go a long way in them remembering you.
Getting around people who are already doing what you aspire to do is a huge boost to both your educational base and motivation. It also allows you to bounce ideas off them and avoid making the same mistakes they did.
I would be cautious about bombarding them with questions the first time you attend an event though. You don’t want to scare people away.
On that note, DO NOT ask people to be your mentor the first time you meet them (or maybe ever). This may come naturally later, but don’t force it.
5. Add value
Learning to add value is the fastest way to get into somebody’s trusted network. This is why I suggested earlier that you listen to the struggles other investors are having. If you can find a solution to their problem, it will pay dividends for you!
Another great way to add value is offering to work for free. This could be as simple as sealing direct mail envelopes for them or helping with handyman tasks on a fix and flip.
The sky is the limit here, but if you are willing to swallow your pride and work for free, it will allow you to get close to their business, ask questions, gain experience, and also build a relationship with that person.
This can turn into mentoring later on, but again, let that happen naturally. Don’t push the issue.
Elon Musk has a great quote: “You get paid in direct proportion to the difficulty of the problems you solve.”
For this reason, you need to be thinking of ways to solve problems and add value to other investors—and in everything you do.
It will pay dividends. I promise!
6. Take action
The final and most important step is to take action. All of your saving, learning, and networking doesn’t matter if you fail to take action.
Your first deal will probably not be your best deal, but it will be the most important. You will learn so much by completing your first real estate investing transaction.
From this deal, you will gain the confidence to invest again. You’ll begin developing a track record to attract private money lenders, too!
Whatever you do, you must avoid the trap of analysis paralysis. This is where would-be investors learn, network, analyze deals, and never pull the trigger.
The perfect deal doesn’t exist. Since that is the case, you can stop looking for it. Find something that makes sense, and go for it!
If you think you’ve found a good investment, I would recommend bouncing the numbers off some of the investors in your network. If they don’t see any major red flags, go for it!
Is there any way to gain experience as a college student? Yes.
Do so the same way most of us get started: saving, earning, learning, networking, adding value, and taking action.
There is no reason why being a college student should hinder you getting started as a real estate investor. Any reason that you come up with is an excuse. So change your mindset, and conquer the world!
What’s stopping you from starting your journey? Do you have any questions I can answer that might help you take action?
Let’s talk in the comment section below!