Combining full-time work with full-time study is no mean feat but for Pana Kritikos it’s been the foundation for a flourishing career.
For as long as he can remember, Pana Kritikos has wanted a career in property and real estate.
With a life-long passion for property, he says he couldn’t think of a better career-fit for his pursuits and personality.
‘So when the time came to explore tertiary study options in Year 12, Deakin’s Bachelor of Property and Real Estate was the obvious choice for me and I’ve never looked back.’
Pana has now successfully completed his degree but reached the milestone while also working full-time in commercial real estate.
For the past three years he’s performed at a high level within the industry where now, at age 21, he’s building a thriving career.
From the start of his Deakin studies, Pana was keen to combine his learning with relevant, real-world experience.
He first landed a part-time role with a large commercial and industrial sales/ leasing firm and within 18 months, was offered a full-time role with Crabtrees Real Estate, one of Melbourne’s largest independently-owned commercial and industrial firms.
‘Even though full-time work combined with full-time study was a big commitment, I knew it would take me further ahead when I graduated, so it was an absolute “no brainer.” I can’t stress enough how important it was to work in the industry and in a role that was so relevant to my degree,’ he says.
Pana was only one year into his degree when the COVID pandemic hit and – like everyone other student – he was forced to complete his studies online.
While the extraordinary circumstances did add an extra layer of pressure to his commitments, he managed to stay motivated and focused.
‘Everything I was learning online at uni became part of my everyday work in the industry. Working while studying was a double bonus because I could apply my learning to work and vice versa – it went hand in hand and was incredibly beneficial.’
Finding a good balance between work, study – and a social life – was possible, he explains, because he was determined to push through the challenges.
‘It took a lot of self-discipline and lot of willingness to “roll with the punches”. It wasn’t easy and there were some nights when I’d come home from work totally exhausted from an often-intense workload of campaigns and client meetings.’
However he was also driven by the knowledge that he was investing in the future.
‘My focus was on what I could do now that would help me when I’ve finished my degree. By choosing to combine work with study, I wasn’t helping Pana today, or Pana next week, I was helping Pana in three years’ time.’
Pana says that holding a university degree is considered highly valuable within the property industry.
‘For me, it’s been a real bonus and has already opened lot of doors and opportunities. I think employers appreciate the hard work that goes into a degree, and I know it has been a key factor in accelerating both my learning and my career.’
Early in his career Pana also made sure he had a strong LinkedIn profile by regularly posting updates about his professional progress and achievements.
‘I think having a strong professional online profile is incredibly important. I’ve found that employers and industry professionals are often incredibly supportive of young people like me who are just out there giving it our best shot.’
With his Deakin degree now embedded into his CV, Pana is advancing his career in the industry’s commercial and industrial sector.
Over the past three years, he’s worked on a wide range of high-level transactions and campaigns and says that for someone of his age, and still early in his career, he’s grateful for the exposure to, and opportunities within, a big market.
‘I have a long way to go but I’m very disciplined and highly driven to succeed. My clients can see this in me, which ultimately gives them the reassurance that I will deliver,’ he says.
While Pana’s role is often demanding he says there’s not a day that he doesn’t look forward to going to work.
‘Every day is different, and I get to work on a variety of interesting projects, but the motivation and drive comes from my underlying passion for property and real estate – there’s nothing else I’d rather do.’