Career Spotlight: Virginia Cummings

Member News,
Name: Virginia Cummings
Company: Preston Communities
Title: Property Manager
Local NC Affiliate: GCAA

Tell us about your career:

I started in the industry in 2008 as a Resident Advisor for a Student Community in Greensboro. It was a great student job because I worked part-time for free rent, and it was mostly in the evenings to cover our clubhouse which was open until 10 pm. When summer leasing season hit I moved to full-time hours as a contract employee and reeeeeally FELL IN LOVE. No one was made for leasing more than I was!

I would take all the tours I could, even though RA's didn't get bonuses for leasing. I reveled in connecting with people and helping them find their new homes. As summer wound down the owner of our company offered me a full-time position at a conventional property. I accepted it and never looked back. I was leasing at a 350-unit property, then moved to a 375-unit multi-site community. (We had six small communities spread out over six miles.) After almost two years of hard work and dedication in this community, we changed and improved so much that we were awarded PTAA's Turnaround Community of the Year. I became the manager of this community in 2012 and won PTAA's Cynthia Applegate Community Manager of the Year Award.

I went on to manage a struggling 600-unit community in its last phase of lease-up and a 384-unit multi-site community. During this time I was very involved in the Piedmont Triad Apartment Association; I served on the Ambassador, Trade Show, and Diamond Award Committees. I became a trainer for PTAA and have been able to use my passion for teaching and training in both the CALP & CAM designation courses. I have been fortunate in my career to be trusted as an on-site trainer, supporting new team members within all of my companies. I left the Triad market for the Charlotte market in February of 2020 where I started managing my current community in Mooresville. I am very much looking forward to connecting more with the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association!

My property's owner started a new management company in January of 2022 and I am now able to help my leadership team with establishing policies, procedures, and training plans for our new company. I have been blessed with some fabulous leaders who invested in my growth and I hope to continue investing in the growth of my team members around me.

What advice do you have for someone just starting in your field:

Have fun and maintain a joyous attitude. This job can feel serious a lot of the time, but it doesn't have to be that way all of the time. Getting to know your team and your residents will go a long way toward making this job most enjoyable. Make time for team lunches and resident social events. You will have heavy days dealing with complaints or difficult people but having good relationships with your team and residents will go a long way to offer you the support you will want, and need.

Anything else you would like to share:

The family-like atmosphere within this industry extends beyond our offices and immediate companies. The relationships we make with vendors and co-workers often turn into friendships and even family-ships. I love the relationships I have made through my local apartment association and would admonish everyone to be involved in their own associations as well. You never know when you need a bid for a new project, and having established connections through your association will make the bidding process significantly easier. Likewise, opportunities for growth in your career, or identifying talent you want to bring to your team, will increase with association involvement. And it doesn't hurt to have a group of close friends and supporters that can empathize with the crazy stories!