From W2 to full-time freelancer

Written by Logan Nagel

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We’re excited to announce that we’re launching a new article interview series focusing on the experiences of the Bullpen community. Each of these stories showcases the innovation, quality, and expertise of our freelancers and clients. Our goal is that each article leaves the reader with a specific insight that can be applied to their own business or career. 

To kick off the series we’re starting with the career journey of Asheesh Patel, a Bullpen freelancer specializing in multifamily, hospitality and self-storage investments. Asheesh’s story highlights several perhaps unexpected reasons freelancing makes sense for a wide variety of career situations and is worth reading for anyone considering jumping into the freelance scene. 

Asheesh’s path to commercial real estate

Asheesh graduated with a degree in Economics from UCLA and, like many of us, didn’t consider real estate as a career option until an internship in the field, which saw him managing property in Beverly Hills. 

From there, he moved to an Irvine-based multifamily and hospitality investment firm where he worked on acquisitions and asset management before eventually heading to the University of Southern California for an MBA. 

After graduation in December 2022, Asheesh plans to pursue a role with a large real estate services firm like CBRE or JLL before eventually launching his own investment firm focusing on the multifamily and self-storage spaces. 

Landing a freelance real estate role

Asheesh had been receiving Bullpen freelance job e-blasts for a long while but was balancing a full-time role as an asset manager with his part-time MBA coursework. 

Finally, in 2022, he began freelancing with our clients, taking on a role managing acquisitions in the hospitality space. 

In the words of Asheesh, “when you first get onboarded as a freelancer, there will be a quick touch base call with Bullpen to help calibrate for focus areas and experience. Then the interview process and getting an offer from a client is straightforward. For me it was a 30-60 minute call, following which you may be asked to send in work samples.” 

Why become a real estate freelancer?

According to Asheesh, the benefits he’s experienced as a commercial real estate freelancer are highly impactful in his career now, and will continue to be valuable in the future. Some of the benefits he highlighted include the following. 

1. Flexibility

Asheesh started freelancing shortly before leaving a full-time role, while continuing his part-time MBA program. Because our freelance contracts are flexible and vary from part to full-time roles, they can fit a wider range of life and career situations than traditional real estate jobs.

Whether you’re fractionally open for work at the start or end of an education program, looking to stay professionally engaged outside the classroom, or already working and expanding your focus into a particular emphasis area, there’s a way to make commercial real estate freelancing fit for you. That leads to benefit #2. 

2. Focus

Freelancing also provides an opportunity to niche down into a particular focus area that you may not be able to touch in a traditional commercial real estate role. For Asheesh, his role in asset management was great but didn’t leave much room to be proactive, hunt for deals or learn beyond his core emphasis area. 

Asheesh says he knows many early to mid-career real estate professionals often choose employment based on the reputation of their employer, often leaving them with potentially less interesting work that may not be in their ideal focus area. In his own words, “the positive of freelancing is that it gives the person a passion project. If the goal is to own a multifamily shop but you’re working in financial services, freelancing gives that ability to go seek out your passion or long term goal area and work more creatively in it.” 

Bullpen’s freelancing role took Asheesh from being a more reactive asset manager to a more proactive acquisitions associate, responsible for underwriting transactions but also bringing in his own deals. “It’s credit to my client, I’ve had the opportunity to build relationships with brokers and keep track of a deal pipeline,” Asheesh added. “I appreciate them giving me an environment where there were challenges to take on as a freelancer.” 

Prospective freelancers take note: beginning a new freelance role can give you a chance to build critical career skills that you may not otherwise have a chance to. 

Who should become a real estate freelancer?

At Bullpen, we think of freelancing as a fantastic way to broaden your real estate horizons, but there are some scenarios that freelancing may not be a good fit for. 

Succeeding as an expert freelancer requires enough discipline and open bandwidth to be able to make a commitment to a new team, with their own deadlines and internal culture. So although we’ve seen successful freelancers with all manner of other work, education and personal commitments, if you’re focusing almost exclusively on a certain part of your life such as a time-consuming master’s degree, freelancing may not be the best fit for the time being. 

Also, Asheesh added, prospective freelancers need to be relatively self-sufficient. “Freelancing would not be a fit for someone who needs a lot of handholding,” he says. “Clients are very busy operating their business and there should be an expectation that once given direction, the freelancer should use whatever resources they have to complete the assignment.” 

Freelancing is a great option for real estate professionals who have that sense of curiosity and drive to take advantage of the free rein given to them, and use it to contribute to extraordinary client outcomes. 

Like any job, freelancing can give you back what you put into it. For driven and highly proficient commercial real estate professionals, it can provide an opportunity to diversify a skillset, refocus a career, or supplement an already successful employment arc.

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