Andrea Graham Career Background
What is your biggest career achievement?
- Working with the Upper State Apartment Association, all achievements are team achievements because it would not be possible without the help from our Board of Directors, committees, and members. With my career starting almost two years ago with the association, it is hard to pin point one individual achievement because I have done so much in the short two years. Based off 2020, I would say what I was able to assist with as far as Outreach Projects in a virtual world was the greatest accomplishment thus far. At the start of 2020, the Outreach Committee sought out six different projects to complete within the year. When March hit and the world went virtual, we knew that although a lot of events and day to day items would be taking a backseat, we couldn't compromise what we had planned and the change we wanted to make. Even during the pandemic, we put on a Virtual Food Drive where members donated $3000, which provided over 15,000 meals to Harvest Hope, participated in Rebuild Upstate, where 10 members helped build a ramp for a local family in need, we volunteered at Project Host, a local food pantry in October. Each time we volunteered, we helped feed over 100 homeless individuals in Greenville, SC. Lastly, at the end of 2020, we partnered with the Salvation Army to bring Christmas to 30 children with Operation Christmas Child. In 2020, people felt hopeless and scared because for majority, they didn't know what to expect when it came to their jobs, income, and resources. With USAA's Outreach Committee, we were able to relieve some of these pressures from individuals in the Upstate. That is my biggest career achievement thus far.
What is your ultimate career goal within the rental housing industry?
- Finding a career that you are fully consumed by directly out of college, seemed like only a dream. You get asked over and over again in high school and then in college, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I always wondered, at what age are you officially "Grown Up" and you have found what you wanted to be. Well, when I answered this question, I found my answers just like majority of others being different than what I want now. Although my answers were parallel to each other, when I first would answer the question, I wasn't seeking out my fullest potential of what I was truly capable. My answer was to be an Event Coordinator. Although this is a perfect career for many, I soon realized after becoming a part of the Upper State Apartment Association's team, I had potential to be an Event Coordinator but also so much more. Now as I reach second year at USAA, my ultimate career goal is to become an Executive Director and complete Leadership Lyceum as I follow in my mentor's footsteps. Since joining the team two years ago, I have been given the opportunity to serve members, non-members, my community and myself more than I ever could have dreamed of when I first answered the confusing question, "what do you want to be." I have served members and non-members by providing educational opportunities such as designations, certifications, and networking opportunities both in-person and now virtual. I have helped the community, along the side of committee members, by working to donate over 15,000 meals to the community through Harvest Hope, contributing to 30 children's Christmas, rebuilding homes for those in need and worked alongside members to volunteer at a local food pantry to feed over 100 individuals daily. Lastly, I have served myself by pushing myself outside my comfort zone by learning fields of this industry I never thought I would know. I found a passion for Governance through NAAPAC, received my Property Management License, and received three promotions. This industry has changed me, my life, and my aspirations over the short two years. I look forward to reaching my goals and continuing to make an impact.
What's one rental housing trend you have your eye on?
- 2020 was a year for new technology advancements, especially for the rental housing industry. Services such as Zoom, Google Meets, and Meeting Owl, allowed for community management teams to stay safe while also continuing to provide tours, meet prospects, stay connected with vendors and attend continuing education sessions at their local apartment associations. With this technology service, the Upper State Apartment Association, was able to provide all scheduled education sessions virtually as well as host Townhall Meetings, Networking Meetings, and NAAPAC events. As 2021 begins, I believe we will continue to see an increased use of these platforms but on an advanced level. At the begin of the pandemic, although Zoom was already a video communication platform, it quickly advanced it's services and provided breakout rooms, poling questions, screen sharing, and recording to enhance the ability to present to the masses. I can see these virtual communication platforms enhancing to assist more in virtual education, especially since schools are continuing to stay hybrid. If they made changes to better enhance the virtual classroom, this would be extremely beneficially for the apartment associations when bringing in more revenue but also to property's teams that wish to enhance their education but are still hesitant to attend in-class sessions. The Upper State Apartment Association was able to help 600 students with continuing education in 2020, which included 84 students passing their Property Management Pre-Licensing course virtual. By enhancing their services to gear more toward virtual classrooms, we would be able to present an exam to the students via the platform instead of having to use an additional service, such as Edulastic or Scantron to perform the exam.
These emerging technology services that kicked off heavy in 2020, have the ability to make a huge impact for apartment association's throughout the country by allowing more in-depth networking events and full-service education courses. This will allow increased revenue because the flexibility it allows for members that are local and also non-members seeking certifications and designations that are not local. For instance, in 2020, USAA facilitated four 30-hour Property Management Pre-Licensing courses. To sign leases in South Carolina, you have to obtain a Property Manager's license. By going virtual, the Upper State Apartment Association was able to assist with not just locals but non-members throughout the state as well as individuals that are moving to South Carolina that wouldn't be able to sit in a 4-day long in-person class. This allowed for substantial increase in revenue and helped our bottom-line in 2020 tremendously.