“My RPM Story” – Carrie Riley | National Apartment Association

“My RPM Story” – Carrie Riley

Military spouses move. And move. And move again. Sometimes you get lucky and stay somewhere for a few years — but usually you don’t. (We sometimes moved before even a year had gone by.) But one comfort of each move was knowing that I would be able to find a job in the RPM industry at the next duty station, because there are apartments everywhere — no matter where you end up. And when you work in or near a military installation, you’ll find that those communities have turnover more frequently because of the transient military population. It’s a portable career, and if you’re willing to work in any position, you can find an RPM job with every move.

Military spouses are also particularly beneficial in RPM positions because of how often they move. I know firsthand how stressful moving is. I know all the awful details involved. I know all the questions you have as a mover because I’m constantly one myself. This makes me especially successful in the leasing office because I am able to think one step ahead of my prospects. They need a list of local schools? I have one ready to go because I had to find one for myself when I moved there. They need to know which three communities are closest to the base? I know because I looked at the same options. Having such a strong relatability to your prospects helps build strong rapport, which is important in the RPM industry.

But I didn’t always know that I wanted to work in RPM. Before I started at my first apartment community, I was the manager of a large salon and day spa. I never planned to transition careers, but while looking for an apartment to rent in 2001, I took note of how much my leasing professional really enjoyed her job and of the balance of administrative work and people skills the job entails. So, as someone who likes variety, change, socializing, and organizing, I decided to look around for a leasing job in my area.

My RPM career path highlights the diverse opportunities within the industry, having started as a leasing professional, then becoming a leasing manager, assistant property manager, property manager, and a relocation specialist for corporate employees. I’ve worked in conventional communities, tax credit communities, and public housing communities. All of this experience helps me bring a balanced perspective to my current position as a training and recruiting coordinator.

As an RPM ambassador, I hope to help people identify their strengths and talents, show them how well they can translate these skills into various RPM positions, and help them plan for their successful career progression. And as a military spouse in the RPM industry, I can offer advice and guidance: Don’t wait until you move to start looking for a job, start looking at least a month in advance, and don’t hesitate to send a resume to communities that haven’t yet posted want ads. Chances are that someone in their office is a military spouse too and will get orders to move soon. Your resume could be right there to be called on! Also, be open to taking all kinds of RPM positions, because at some point your adventures with military life will end and you’ll want to have a well-rounded resume to bring to that next big interview.

If you know someone who would make a great RPM Careers ambassador, email Sarah Levine at slevine@naahq.org.