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Advice / Career Paths / Career Stories

Why Passion and Patience Have Been the Keys to Success for This BlackRock Associate

Tyler Nathan, an associate at BlackRock
Tyler Nathan, an associate at BlackRock.
| Courtesy of BlackRock

Two years into his undergraduate studies at Emory University, Tyler Nathan had an idea for a business that would help prevent people from being able to text and drive. But rather than leave it at that, he decided to launch his own start up, taking a leave of absence from college.

“As a business student with an entrepreneurial mindset—and a slight addiction to the show Shark Tank—I knew I had to go all-in,” he says. “It was an incredible experience working alongside fantastic colleagues and partners building a simple idea into a tangible and working product.”

After four years of running the company, however, Nathan was confronted with an inflection point for the business and decided to return to school, earning a BBA from Emory’s Goizueta Business School in finance, real estate, and strategy and management consulting.

But he didn’t stop pursuing real-life work experience: During the summer between his junior and senior years, he interned at BlackRock in the Real Estate Private Equity group. Upon completing his internship, Nathan received an offer to join the firm’s full-time Analyst Program and today is a real estate acquisitions associate and deputy portfolio manager within the Private Markets group.

“Coming to BlackRock was a perfect fit for someone like me, who loves finance and investing, and is hungry to grow and learn with an innate entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. “Plus, if you are someone who is willing to work hard and wants to learn, the firm and senior leaders are happy to provide young talent with opportunities and mentorship.”

Here, Nathan shares what made BlackRock the right place to start his career, how the firm supports employee growth, and why passion and patience are both key to finding success.

What initially piqued your interest in an internship at BlackRock? What about it made you want to join the company full-time?

I’ve always loved finance and investing, and through other internship experiences and conversation with friends and family in the financial world, I knew I wanted to pursue opportunities in private markets such as private equity and real estate. And after experiencing the startup environment, I wanted to go in the complete opposite direction and work at a major financial institution—particularly one that had a broad suite of investment capabilities.

When I started researching places to work, I looked into the origin story of how and why BlackRock was founded. The CEO, Larry Fink, and the other founders’ vision and purpose for the firm, including the BlackRock principles, truly resonated with me. Further, the firm is clear on its goal of meaningfully growing its private markets business, especially real estate, so being part of an area of growth was appealing.

The last piece of the puzzle was the firm’s robust internship and analyst programs. Going straight into the buy-side is difficult for undergraduates; not many private market platforms have formal internships or hire undergraduates directly. The firm’s programs are structured, curated, and robust—truly tailor-made for junior talent development.

As you considered your options after your internship, what about BlackRock’s Analyst Program was most compelling or exciting?

Having gone through the summer internship on the real estate team at BlackRock, I got to experience first-hand what makes this platform special: the people, the culture, and the firm’s genuine authenticity. After receiving my offer, it was a relatively easy decision to return.

Exposure to “real” work is critical early on in an individual’s career, as is access to smart people and mentors, and personal and professional development. All of that is precisely what the BlackRock two-year Analyst Program provided.

How did the Analyst Program encourage your professional growth?

The program provided the structure and resources to learn, and taught me to be comfortable with ambiguity. My colleagues of all levels supported me to achieve my potential. They enabled me to showcase my talent where and when appropriate, put me in positions to grow, openly shared constructive criticism to allow me to refine my skills, and were always willing to help when needed.

The program is also a great support system. Due to its scale, there are hundreds of other program analysts and former program analysts you can go to for advice about work or your career. The firm also has a treasure trove of resources, like BlackRock Academies (a library of best-in-class interactive resources and courses) and our employee-led Professional Networks, to help you develop within your specific role or learn about topics completely unrelated to your job.

What was the most surprising or unexpected part of the Analyst Program?

While BlackRock is a massive organization, I was pleasantly surprised that even young professionals have direct access to senior leaders, play a role in decision making, and have exposure to clients.

I was—and am—impressed by the robust programming the firm has, not just for interns and analysts, but for employees of all levels throughout their careers at BlackRock. There are numerous internal networking groups and events, and there’s a distinct emphasis on having a broad-based knowledge set. If you want to learn something or meet someone, the firm makes it easy.

What are you responsible for in your current role at BlackRock?

My responsibilities include underwriting, structuring, and evaluating potential real estate investments along with supporting the management and strategy formation of several real estate investment vehicles on the platform.

I am fortunate that the firm has allowed me to develop both acquisitions and portfolio management skills, which is an unusual hybrid within the group. I have the opportunity to evaluate real estate opportunities across the risk spectrum, and our platform invests in all the major real estate sectors. Furthermore, in my portfolio management role, I get to evaluate U.S. real estate, as well as work on a global portfolio in the EMEA and APAC regions. I work closely with a talented group of senior BlackRock professionals as well as several of the firm's strategic clients.

How has your nontraditional path impacted you and how you approach your work?

My path has led to a unique perspective and increased my appreciation for entrepreneurial risk, responsibility for other people’s capital, and the demands of running a business irrespective of size. Having run a startup, I am even more driven to succeed and develop into a trusted and valued teammate, working alongside my colleagues to achieve the best possible outcomes for clients/investors, shareholders, and the firm.

What skills or lessons did you learn running a startup that have helped you succeed at BlackRock?

Looking back, I think time management, data-backed critical thinking and strategy ideation, a people- and client-first leadership mentality, and the ability to tactfully ask questions are all qualities that have translated to my current role and have enabled me to be successful at BlackRock.

From a lessons-learned perspective, I’ve found that communication and collaboration are critical. Transparency with a team approach achieves the best outcome. And it’s also important to know that mistakes and failure happen, but it’s how you respond to that adversity that matters. Take ownership and learn from it—mistakes often provide the best learning experiences.

What advice do you have for people just starting out in their careers?

Being someone that colleagues feel comfortable going to for questions and who senior leaders can rely on for time-sensitive and important requests are things I’m proud of, and something I’d advise the next batch of junior talent to think about.

Be passionate about what you are doing and have patience. If you have passion, you’ll enjoy the journey and have the motivation to work hard and push forward even when the inevitable tough times come.

Patience is a trait I’ve come to value over the years. In a society where quick success is plastered all over the media and celebrated, at the end of the day, success—regardless of how you define it—comes over an extended period of time for 99% of us. A career evolves, takes different shapes and forms, and occurs over decades. You never know what will come, but be patient, love what you do, and enjoy the journey!