As part of our Summer of Inspiration series, we sat down with Erika Martinez, NALP, CAM, to talk about why she believes credentials are so important and how they have helped her excel in her career.
Erika is a leasing professional at Bohannon Development in El Paso, Texas and she has earned three credentials — NALP, CAM, and CPO, all with one thing in mind — to help her grow and advance in her career. As a top performer, Erika has a noticeable presence in her community and represents Bohannon Properties regularly at local and state events. In 2018, Erika was recognized for her excellence and leadership in the apartment housing industry with the Texas Apartment Association (TAA) Award, and in 2019 she was named the National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP) of the Year.
Let’s start with what led you to pursue your first credential.
I was going to school full time and looking for a part time job. My friend of many years encouraged me to pursue a full time job at an apartment community that was hiring, so I did. I didn’t get that job but later on I got a call from the management company about a job at another property, so I applied and this time I got the job. After a few months, it felt right and I realized how much I enjoyed helping people. I decided to make this my career and I knew I needed training.
Why was it so important to get a credential?
I came to the industry with no knowledge at all. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, so it was pretty much, you know, Let’s do it — Let’s learn. I had a lot to learn. So I started with NALP, which gave me the “big picture” — I learned what to expect and how to react and respond to questions. Then I went on to earn my CAM credential which taught me problem solving and what it takes to run a property; understanding the needs of the business and how to achieve goals.
How has having a credential helped you in your career?
Earning credentials has helped me become an expert in my field, and with each credential I’ve earned, I’ve received a promotion. The recognition I have received inspires and motivates me to keep learning and growing.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about earning a credential?
I would just tell them to go for it – the sooner the better. We’re never 100% ready when it comes to learning new things but if you like variety on a daily basis and helping people, the NAAEI Credentials can open up a lot of doors and prepare you for a fulfilling career in Property Management.
Any other thoughts on the benefits of investing in yourself?
Don’t give up on yourself. It took me two attempts in the beginning to get the job that turned into a very fulfilling career. And, I didn’t give up when I didn’t pass the test for my CAM credential the first time – it took me two attempts but it was worth it in the end. I want to inspire others who want to grow in the industry and let them know it’s possible.