How did I end up here?!

Real Estate Agent 136749

Every time I am asked about how I got into real estate, I find it hard to keep the story short. One thing I do like to include is the fact that I was fired from an internship.  Yup, that's right, I was fired after only 2 weeks of working there. This usually surprises people, and it's fun to see the faces of the people when I first say it. 

Today I thought I would take the time to explain the whole story of why I was fired, and how I got into real estate while I was still in school for my finance degree.


Why was I fired?

It was the summer of my last year in school in 2018. I had bounced from UW Seattle to Highline in Des Moines, and finally to UW Tacoma. This is where I was to finish my bachelor's in finance, and eventually persue a career in financial planning or accounting; anything to do with numbers, really. Because numbers don't lie. Either you're right, or you're wrong, and the sense of certainty was exactly what I wanted in a career.

At the time, I was still balancing a serving job at Bahama Breeze and an internship at Sound Outreach. But I knew I needed to seriously prepare myself to have a job upon graduation in December, so I decided to leave my serving job and my internship and fully focus on my last 2 quarters at school while looking for another internship opportunity in the field of accounting or finance.

While serving, I had made a connection with the owner of a cemetary. I had helped him organize files in his office a year prior, and thought I would reach out to him to see if I could come on as an intern to gain real life experience in the field. I approached him, and after a few emails back and forth to work out the details, he offered me a position as a paid accouting intern. I had shared that I knew nothing about QuickBooks or any other program, and that that's what I wanted to learn there.

quickly realized that I had gotten in over my head, as had he. To my surprise, the demand for cremations and plots in a cemetary was incredibly high, and all 5 of his staff, including him, were slammed from the moment they arrived at 8am until they left, often after 5pm. Lunches were frequently eaten at the desks, and it was an overall tense environment. Nobody really had the time to train me. I was given directions to input receipts into QuickBooks without any training, and to file away paperwork for the owner. I beared with it, thinking it would quickly get easier. I was wrong

One day, two weeks into my internship, my boss called me into his office to check over some of my work in QuickBooks, for the first time since I had started there. He grew upset that I had input dozens of receipts incorrectly, and he was not shy about communicating that to me, and very sternly so. I was embarrassed, but also resented that nobody had ever shown me the right way. 

So, he took out his checkbook, wrote me a check for my two weeks' worth of hours, and waved me away with the words: "Good luck with your finance stuff, or whatever."


The Next Day

Man, was I upset. I couldn't believe he didn't take the time to teach me and then embarrassed me by firing me in front of another staff member. But, I already had another idea about how to move forward. I had heard of someone by the name of Grant Cardone, and admired his journey from a drug addicted 25 year old to a successful real estate investor. I wanted to learn more about all things real estate. I picked my work station for the afternoon, at Jewel Box Cafe at Point Ruston and I got to work. I found 5 local real estate firms, and emailed all of them, asking them for an internship. With no idea how real estate firms worked, I crossed my fingers, and by the end of the day, one of them got back to me!

I was excited! A few days later, I went in for an interview, and was asked to stay for the day to get a feel for the brokerage and to get to know the DB and the desk manager.


A Different Outcome

This time, after 2 weeks, I was not asked to leave, but offered to stay on as a real estate agent if I could have my license in hand in 4 weeks. The brokerage's owner, who was still the DB at the time, even offered to pay for my course to get my license in the given time frame.

And so I did.

This was in August, and with my graduation coming up in December, the idea of having a job with 4 months of experience coming out of school was really attractive to me.

I stayed with that first brokerage for almost a year before switching to Theory Real Estate, where I am now.


From Student Server, to Real Estate Agent

And that is how I ended up in real estate. I had never considered myself a sales person, or thought that I would fall into a career where my success is based on my every interaction with home owners, buyers, and investors. Nevertheless, I LOVE real estate, I love the opportunities it brings, and the lifestyle you can build for yourself when taking the right steps.


Thanks for taking the time to read this, and a shoutout to Keith Sant, a kickass investor, for telling me about ActiveRain!


Comments (16)

Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

Thanks for the background and fun read Alline Birkel . I think many in RE ended up here by default. I was in my 40's when a very successful agent/associate broker said "Bob, why don't you sell RE?". It was a great 20 years for me and now I am happily retired but still active as a loan signing agent. Best wishes to you for GREAT success in RE.

Nov 29, 2020 02:55 PM
Alline Birkel

Hey Bob, It has also been my experience that many agents fall into it.

Congratulations on being retired! I bet being a loan signing agent is fun!

Best wishes to you as well!

Nov 29, 2020 06:16 PM
Ronald Curtis
Sapphire Associates - West Palm Beach, FL
Negotiating the best price and terms for my Buyers

Hello Alline.......

The most significant wordage of your blog, consisted of your loving real estate.

If you don't love what you do, you will never be happy. Helping other people is one of the most important aspects of living. You don't consider yourself a salesperson which is something that I relate to. I tell people, "I am a facilitator" Tell me about your needs, and I will help you find the home that will meet your needs and desires. This comment I reserve for buyers. Good luck in your new found LOVE.

Best wishes,


Nov 29, 2020 03:22 PM
Alline Birkel

Hi Ronald,

I totally agree! Helping others has always been at the top of my list when searching for jobs. 

I like the terminology you use, "the facilitator." Have you noticed a shift in the way your clients perceive you yet with that term versus labeling yourself a buyer's agent?

Nov 29, 2020 06:19 PM
Ronald Curtis
Sapphire Associates - West Palm Beach, FL
Negotiating the best price and terms for my Buyers

Hello Alline.....

I had always enjoyed working as a buyer's agent, as having listings was not my forte. Listings are the way most agents depend on their income. I am an iconoclast and spent my days looking for buyers.

I am what I am. 
Best wishes,


Nov 29, 2020 07:34 PM
Keith Sant
Kind House Buyers - Tacoma, WA
Real Estate Problem Solver And House Buyer

Alline Birkel - I loved your first post! What a great story and I totally relate with you on the whole math thing. You get the right answer and just move on. Writing is not that easy lol.


Great job and I'm really proud of you for opening up! Looking forward to your next post. 

Nov 29, 2020 07:37 PM
Alline Birkel

Totally! That's why I have always loved moved in school. Sometimes I think I should buy a math workbook and get back into studying math every day, to keep my mind sharp :D


Thank you Keith, I look forward to reading your next blog too!

Nov 30, 2020 12:51 PM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Great information, thanks for sharing.  I hope you have a great day.

Nov 30, 2020 12:57 AM
Alline Birkel

Thank you for reading, Richard! Have an amazing week!

Nov 30, 2020 12:51 PM
John Pusa
Glendale, CA

Welcome to the ActiveRain community. Congratulations on your first post.

Nov 30, 2020 05:47 PM
Alline Birkel

Thank you John!

Nov 30, 2020 07:05 PM
John Pusa
Glendale, CA

Hello Alline Birkel very good report about how did I end up here.

Nov 30, 2020 05:48 PM
Alline Birkel


Nov 30, 2020 07:05 PM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Welcome to ActiveRain Alline,

This is an awesome platform for a new agent. There is so much experience here and we willingly share.  You might want to consider joining our weekly Tuesday Zoom calls.  Here is the link. 

Dec 01, 2020 06:05 AM
Alline Birkel

Hi Carol! For sure! I would love to join you on your next Zoom call! Thank you :)

Dec 02, 2020 08:19 AM
Debb Janes
Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
Put My Love of Nature At Work for You

Welcome to Active Rain Alline Birkel - it's a pleasure to meet you. We look forward to reading more about you.  I have family in the Tacoma area and get up to visit from time-to-time. 

Dec 01, 2020 07:08 AM
Alline Birkel

Thank you Debb! It is nice to e-meet you as well :)

Maybe I will get to meet you in person sometime when it is safe to do so again.

Dec 02, 2020 08:21 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

Hi Alline! I began reading this post last night and was called away but, you had me 'hooked,' so I had to return today to finish. I LOVE your story and am so glad the 'mortician' fired you - otherwise, you wouldn't be here with us now. And, a huge shout-out to Keith Sant too!

As Carol mentioned, I hope you both can attend our Tuesday ZOOM calls. They are at 2PM EST every week. Here is the link.

Welcome to ActiveRain!

Dec 01, 2020 07:35 AM
Alline Birkel

Well this is encouraging, as I don't really consider myself a writer...ha!

Thank you Carol, I will be seeing you next Tuesday :)

Dec 02, 2020 08:21 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

I am glad I came across your very first blog post. Welcome to the fold. You have come at a very interesting time when ActiveRain is changing. The owners are updating everything and are making the blog and community  more viable and SEO friendly. I hope this community will be of value for you.

Happy Tuesday afternoon Alline Birkel  



Dec 01, 2020 03:54 PM
Alline Birkel

Good Morning Paul,

I can't wait to explore ActiveRain more and see how it develops. This community has already been so welcoming, and valuable as well! Thanks for stopping by to say hi :)

Dec 02, 2020 08:23 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Aline - welcome to ActiveRain and the world of blogging.  I think your initial attempt with this post is a good one.  It's honest and genuine.  Now, keep them coming so we continue to learn more about you.  Good luck.  

Dec 02, 2020 03:54 AM
Alline Birkel

Hi Michael,

thank you, that is much appreciated! More to come soon :D

Have a great week!

Dec 02, 2020 08:24 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Alline Birkel welcome to ActiveRain, and congratulations on successfully posting your first blog on this site.

Dec 05, 2020 04:34 PM
Alline Birkel

Thank you George!

Dec 08, 2020 04:27 PM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Welcome to ActiveRain.  I look forward to seeing your future posts.

Dec 08, 2020 03:01 PM
Alline Birkel

Thank you Raymond!! :)

Dec 08, 2020 04:28 PM
AJ Heidmann ~ CRS
McEnearney Associates, Inc. - Alexandria, VA
YOUR Alexandria & Arlington, VA Real Estate Expert

Alline ~ Welcome into the 'Rain and congrats on your first blog post here!  The path in life is never a straight line, so course changes along the way are expected.

Feb 16, 2021 10:26 AM