Name: Dani Taylor
Graduation Date: Summer 2021
Graduate Degree: Master of Science in Real Estate, Chapman University
Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration ’20, Real Estate Emphasis, Leadership Cluster, Chapman University
Life at Chaman
Why did you choose Chapman University?
I chose Chapman University because of its location and because I wanted a small classroom environment. I came from a private, all-girls high school and was used to having small-sized classrooms. I love environments that allow personalized attention, the opportunity to connect with professors, and the ability to be hands-on in the classroom.
When I toured other schools, I noticed some lecture halls had over a hundred people in them. That didn’t feel like an environment that I could focus and thrive in. Strategically choosing a school that I could grow in and network in positioned me well for when I graduated and was ready to start my career.
I also knew that I wanted to live and work in Southern California. I stayed away from going to another state and focused on establishing a reputation, career, and connections in the area that I knew I wanted to live and work. I love the beach, Southern California’s atmosphere, and having my family close. So close, in fact, that my brother was a senior at Chapman University when I was a freshman. Chapman was already familiar to me and a place I was comfortable. I never once felt like I wanted to transfer. I am so happy with my decision.
How has your experience been throughout your time at Chapman University?
My experience has been super positive. Ever-changing too. Every year I had a different interest or hobby and pursued a variety of things in my studies. I told my parents each year when I came home from school that I wanted to do something different. I explored different career pathways like finance, entrepreneurship, management, and eventually real estate.
I have amazing things to say about Chapman University professors and truly had a great experience—in the classroom, socially, and all other aspects of campus life.
What advice do you have for students looking to maximize their success while at Chapman University?
I would say this: “Take a chance on yourself. Believe in yourself. Believe in what you want. You can make it happen if you believe in yourself.”
There are a lot of different ideas and status quo ideals of what people think it looks like to go through college and move on to career. Society might have us believe that if someone doesn’t go straight from earning a degree to a full-time job to a job at a corporation, you’re not successful.
The truth is that success looks so different. Success has nothing to do with money. You accomplish something by trying something new. By trying something new, you discover whether you love something or hate it. By exploring and putting yourself out there, you’ll be more successful than someone who hasn’t put themselves out there. Be yourself. Everyone will always have an opinion of what you should or should not do. But you have control on whether or not you are being true to yourself. Follow your dreams. You can make them happen!
What has been your favorite part of your experience at the Argyros school?
The best part of my experience is this: starting without an understanding business. I didn’t know what it really was—but I was curious. And I know it now.
Classes were challenging and my professors were so supportive. It was nice to be able to have transparency and talk to them because they wanted to speak to you and get to know you. Overall, I recommend it highly to everyone. I truly believe that Chapman University is one of the best schools around.
You’ve been so involved at Chapman. In what ways do you feel like that has helped?
I think in short you get out what you put into it. There were a few times that I felt like giving up and seeking opportunities off campus when it got hard. But I overcame it and I’m proud of that. I had a positive experience and in my experience it’s because I put in the work. You won’t meet people unless you put yourself out there in front of them. You won’t learn unless you put in the time and study.
Overall, the opportunities, knowledge, contacts, and exposure were more than I could have imagined.
In the Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) Program
You recently graduated from the inaugural MSRE program. What inspired you to get your master’s degree?
Two years ago, I was sitting in my college counselor’s office. I told her that I wanted my master’s degree by age 25. I completed it at 23. It has been incredibly rewarding for me to have achieved this professional goal and personal goal. Some people say being a woman in finance or real estate is a disadvantage, but I think it’s an advantage. Right now, there are opportunities for us to get into seats that we want. Women have been underrepresented in several functions and industries and now, more now than ever before, doors are open to demonstrate our strengths and show our knowledge. Some facets of real estate are still very male dominated. Earning my master’s degree proved to me that I could do it—that I deserve a seat at the table.
Has your master’s degree changed your career path or goals?
When I entered into the program, I felt like I knew what I wanted to do. But I didn’t know if anyone would believe in it. I wanted to be in development and someone my age may not have the lengthy experience some organizations prefer. My original intention when I entered the program was to gain and grow an arsenal of knowledge, connections, and experience within one year to prove to my future employer that despite my age, I’m committed and I’m the right person for the job.
At 23 not many people are as sure as I was about what they want to do. A year ago, I didn’t have the credentials to be considered for a Financial Analyst role. And here I am. This program was worth it. I learned so much and Chapman’s MSRE program is paying off day-to-day in my career.
How has your master’s degree helped you grow?
I grew the most in my discipline. I picked up responsibilities quite larger than what I had envisioned. I made a commitment to show up and be engaged for a whole year every night. Every late night. It was a lot, but it was worth it.
In addition to discipline, I grew my time management abilities and the ability to prioritize and recognize where my priorities are and where I want them to be. I missed out on other things to sacrifice for the Master of Science in Real Estate program. I chose to do homework over going to the beach and I would do it again. Coming out of the program, I know exactly where my priorities lie and where I want them to be in the future, in my career, and beyond.
What has been your favorite thing about the MSRE program so far?
It’s the lifelong friendship and connections we built through our time together working late into the nights and weekends. It’s very rewarding to be part of a cohort model, and to also be surrounded around people who are hard-working and driven. Those are the type of people I want to be and also who I want to be surrounded with in my career.
You can learn from a textbook all day long but the best way to truly grow and become a professional is to leverage your connections, say yes to different experiences, and show up for yourself. I’ll always remember those late-night groups working on presentations.
After the Master of Science in Real Estate Program
When you’re not working or going to school, what do you like to do for fun?
I love cooking. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and going to farmers markets because I love to make fresh food and insanely complicated dinners. If I’m not cooking, I love to be outside. The beach, a ski slope in the winter, or just playing card games with my family at night are some of my favorite things.
The last thing about me—I try to have a philanthropic outlook and look for ways to give back. I enjoy giving my time, energy, and money to organizations that I believe in. It’s a part of who I am. I love to get involved and one day, I hope to start my own non-profit. I’ll always make time for someone who wants my advice. You can find me on LinkedIn if you’d like to say hello.
What career advice do you have for other students, or anyone, looking for an internship or a job?
It’s okay to feel intimidated! It’s beneficial to walk in a room and be intimidated. It will challenge you to go the extra mile. Intimidating circumstances can be seen as hard because being challenged is scary. But if you’re always outside of your comfort zone that’s where you’ll see the most growth by watching, absorbing, and learning from others.
If you believe in yourself and put yourself in intimidating situations, you’ll look back in a year and be surprised at how far you’ve come. So put yourself out there. Try something new. Ask for informational interviews. The worst thing people can say is “no.” In the 20+ times I’ve asked, I only ever heard “yes.”
What’s next now that you’ve finished your master’s degree in real estate?
I’ve come all this way and I have so many accomplishments that I’m proud of. The only way to go is up. There’s so much good coming my way that I don’t know about, I can’t even prepare myself for it. For my career, I want to keep the door open and put myself out there. I will continue to seek experiences, situations, and things that allow me to absorb the most that I can.
I’m a Financial Analyst now, but in the future, who knows what that title will be? It will be something I’ve worked hard to get to, and I know I’ll be proud of where I am. I’ve found my love for real estate and it’s such a vast industry, there’s much to explore here and globally.