Take Charge of Your Career With Visto: An Interview with Crystal Dukes, CAM


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An interview with Crystal Dukes, CAM, the Director of Education, Training & DEI Strategies with RealSource Properties, who earned her CAM in 2022.

Hard work. Determination. Persistence. Each of these qualities has been instrumental in propelling Crystal’s career in the multifamily housing industry. She has risen through the ranks to the position she now enjoys. And she did it all without a single credential. 

So why — after 17 years of success in multifamily — did she finally decide to pursue a CAM credential? Well, it ultimately boiled down to two things: value and commitment

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Persistence Pays Off

Never be afraid to take that next first step into something new.

Crystal’s career path in multifamily has humble beginnings. In fact, pursuing a career in multifamily was nowhere in her original plans, but she was in college and needed to pay rent. And because of that, she applied for a graphic design internship at the student housing community where she was renting.

“I literally called in 2-3 times a week to check on the status of my application,” said Crystal. “They decided not to have an internship position, but the community manager was looking for a leasing consultant and said she had never met anyone as persistent.” 

That community manager noticed Crystal’s potential. She recognized qualities in Crystal that she knew would be perfect for leasing — and she was right! From that early start as a leasing consultant, Crystal has never looked back.
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Just Do It: CAM Adds Value

Over her 17-year career, Crystal has held many roles. But in her current director-level position, she is responsible for designing and implementing onboarding initiatives, leadership development, and mentoring programs while also overseeing diversity and inclusion efforts at RealSource. 

Crystal is now at a point in her career where she feels confident in her abilities; she has proven her value. And quite frankly, as a wife, mother, and full-time professional, she didn’t initially want to add something else to her already packed schedule.

That is until two of her peers communicated the value of having a CAM designation and encouraged her to “just do it.” Those simple words, "Crystal, just go get your CAM," spoken by friends and colleagues, became the push she needed to pursue her credentials. 

Reflecting on the experience, Crystal comments, “I am glad that I had that push; otherwise, I may have yet to do it; it was so worth it.” 

“So many people are champions of our industry, and any type of designation or certification shows a continued commitment to the multifamily industry.”
Crystal Dukes, CAM, RealSource Properties

Overcoming Perceived Barriers to Success

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If we can find one positive from the pandemic, expanded online opportunities might be one of them. 

While many people enjoy in-person training opportunities, it’s not always a reality — or the “best” option — for someone with a packed schedule and other responsibilities. Having the online option became a critical decision factor for Crystal. 

“Between my responsibilities at work, involvement in the NAA, and personal life, my schedule gets super packed!” said Crystal. “As a wife and mom, it can be hard to find the free time needed to take on the "extra," [so] having the option to take classes when I could fit them in was perfect. I would choose the same method if I had to do it again. It works for me.”

The online training option also gave her another unexpected bonus: taking the CAM credential test at home. There’s a level of comfort that comes from testing in an environment where you feel comfortable!

Test-taking can be intimidating, particularly if you’ve been out of that routine for a while. Even though Crystal had been in the industry for 17 years, she still had to battle nerves and the fear of forgetting formulas. 

But of course, we know the end of the story. Crystal took her exam and aced it, and adding those three little initials to her title never felt so good.

Investing in Your Success

Although Crystal made the decision to invest in herself and pay for her CAM, her employer, RealSource, does offer educational reimbursement to support employees looking to further their educational career options. 

Additionally, many industry organizations offer incentives that ease the financial burden. As Crystal shared, “During RPM (residential property management) Careers Week, there was a 25% discount offered to all NAA members for the online classes.”

Support is out there. The value credentials add to your career is undeniable. So what’s holding you back? Isn’t it time you invested in your success?

So why grow with Visto?

Visto is a partnership between Grace Hill, the National Apartment Association Education Institute (NAAEI), and NAA Affiliates that provides easy online access to industry-leading credentials (like the CAM), continuing education courses, instructor-led webinars, and more.

Visto offers valuable industry accreditation and continuing education training for multifamily career paths, from leasing and community management to maintenance.

“CAM shines a light on what it truly takes to be an effective community manager. Obtaining this certification shows your commitment to multifamily and further confirms that you have what it takes to make a property successful.”
Crystal Dukes, CAM, RealSource Properties


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Whether you’re looking to build your career, your training department, or your company’s reputation — act now and grow with Visto.

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You can connect with Crystal on LinkedIn.

Visto Content Team


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