After graduating in 2006 with degrees in finance, twin brothers De'On and De'Juan Collins moved back to their hometown of Dallas to begin their careers. While attending Texas Tech the brothers co-founded Collins Capital Investments, a private real estate investments firm headquartered in Dallas.
De'On works for HFF, a real estate capital markets firm, as an Associate Director. He specializes in debt and equity placement and raises both debt and equity capital for owners, investors and developers of commercial real estate assets across the country. While De'Juan currently serves on the transactions team for Invesco Real Estate (U.S.), mainly responsible for acquiring or developing commercial real estate from the Midwest to the Southeast United States.
The brothers continue their involvement with the university by serving as members of Rawls Raiders, a new organization that helps increase the involvement among recent graduates throughout the state of Texas. Learn more about the Collins brothers' time at Rawls, how it helped them in their careers, and what advice they would offer current students in the Q&A below.
Which courses had the most impact on your career?
De'On - I took many valuable courses in college, but the real estate courses I took were the most impactful in my opinion. I say this because it wasn't until I took my first real estate course in the Rawls College that I even knew that the career path in the commercial real estate industry even existed. I majored finance and always knew I wanted to do something with numbers but had no idea what. The light bulb went off and the passion was ignited when I took my first introduction to real estate finance course. That said I credit the real estate courses I took as the most impactful because, without them, I may not have ever known I wanted to pursue the industry or that the opportunity existed.
De'Juan - Given that I work in the commercial real estate industry, some of my most impactful courses were the real estate courses taken during my tenure at Texas Tech. Furthermore, I would also say Corporate Finance was very impactful as the ability to analyze balance sheets and profit and loss statements for investment opportunities and/or companies is an imperative skillset in my current position.
How do you think the Rawls College prepared you for the professional world?
De'On - Through general college course work, I learned the obvious writing, communication and critical thinking skills that are imperative to my business today, but I think the most valuable skill learned while at Rawls College was time management. During my time at Rawls, I took full course loads, interned, played an active role in student organizations, followed a couple of entrepreneurial aspirations and had a pretty active social life. At no point could I let any of those items slip so I learned by trial and error and very early on how to juggle many different things at once. This is one of the most important skills I have taken with me to the real world in both my professional and personal life.
De'Juan - Beyond the standard set of skills that anyone would expect to obtain from their college career, the largest lesson gained from my time at Rawls is the value of and how to build relationships. I believe this lesson has been one of the largest contributors to my success thus far.
What do you do to stay involved with the Rawls College?
De'On - I try to stay involved with Rawls by giving back in two ways: (1) monetarily, as I can, and (2) giving my time. After graduation, I learned early on from professors, mentors and other prominent alumni that giving back was not solely about doing so monetarily. In fact, the most important way I could do my part early on was to give back time. Today, I serve a couple of boards/committees for the Rawls College that champion scholarship as well as mentor efforts. I also travel back to Lubbock on occasion to speak to student organizations about my experience at Rawls, what I did to prepare for life after college, and my experiences in the commercial real estate industry. Early on after graduating from Rawls and before I had any ability to give monetarily, giving my time was one of the biggest and most impactful ways I stayed involved. This continues to be true today.
De'Juan - Over the years, I have remained involved with the college in a multitude of different ways, both formally and informally. Currently, I serve on the Dallas Rawls Scholarship event committee, which helps to plan the annual scholarship fundraiser in Dallas. I have also attempted to maintain involvement on a somewhat indirect basis by periodically speaking to the Real Estate Organization and other student organizations.
What advice you would give students looking for a successful future?
De'On - The most important advice I would give to students is not to wait until the summer before your senior year to get internship experience. I would imagine there are some students that think they should have an idea of their career path before pursuing internships but I don't think that is truly necessary. In my opinion, the internship does not have to be specific to the field you ultimately pursue but, for prospective employers, early internships show initiative and help set you apart from the rest. There are obviously exceptions to this rule but, if you don't have internship experience, there should be a great reason why not.
De'Juan - Beyond the obvious of making the most of your time at Texas Tech, both academically and socially, some of the best advice I can give is to make a point to build relationships with your professors and other faculty members. The Rawls College employs some of the brightest minds in industry with contacts that span far beyond the university and Lubbock. As you begin to make the transition from your collegiate career to the real world, I believe you will find, as I did, that they would be a huge resource. As it pertains to involvement, the biggest thing that I try to remind myself is that involvement with or giving back to the Rawls College doesn't have to be huge or formalized to be impactful. Do what you can and allow your involvement with the Rawls College to grow organically and when an opportunity presents itself, make certain to capitalize on it.This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.