For students looking to break into real estate, beggars can't be choosers. Any real estate experience is better than no real estate experience. In real estate, people care less about brand names and more about actual experience. So don't be shortsighted when looking at internship opportunities. The most important thing is to get a solid real estate internship under your belt and then leverage that to full-time position somewhere else.
And don't worry too much about your role during the internship or the size of the company. For instance, if you want to work for a developer after school but your only internship opportunity is in brokerage, then take it! Or, if your only opportunity is at a 5-person real estate company, then take it! Your goal is to get any type of real estate experience on your resume and then leverage that!
Also, you should try to do internships during the school year, even if they are unpaid.
In General, Real Estate Companies Hire on an Ad Hoc Basis
Most real estate investment companies run fairly lean. A company with $500 million in assets may only have 10-12 team members in total among management, acquisitions, asset management, and accounting. Therefore, hiring only occurs once they grow larger or a team member leaves. However, the company can rarely project this and so they cannot recruit you 8 months before you graduate. Instead, they will hire people on an as needed basis.
What all of this means is:
The exception to all of this are large, institutional real estate companies. These companies know more or less how many minions they need to hire each year and so they will recruit based on the normal university recruiting schedule.
You Need to Hustle to Land Something, but the Effort Is Well Worth It
Getting an internship will require a lot of legwork. It will require you to have numerous informational interviews, coffee chats, and begging. It will require you to forgo the easy fruit in recruiting (e.g. Big 4) and patiently wait while all your friend receive offers. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Real estate is one of the best careers to be in. You have the opportunity to earn great money with high earning potential, work with a unique/interesting asset class, and learn a valuable skill set that you can apply to your own real estate investments on day (and make even more money).
Check out our Real Estate Career Guide for even more helpful career advice!