Maintaining adaptability is at the core of the everyday when working in HOA management as unpredictable moments must constantly be met with swift, strategic thinking. Keystone manager-in-training (MIT) Jake Muck exemplifies this ability and as a result, has quickly been able to advance his career. Though this opportunity may not have previously been on his radar, it goes to show just how much can change in a year.
Pivoting to the right position
Customer service is the common thread linking Jake’s job history to the career path he’s on today. From his first job in high school as a manager at Vans, to working at Trader Joe’s for a two-year stint, to the left turn he made entering trade school to train as a HVAC technician, there’s no question Jake knows how to engage well with people and provide solutions.
However, due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jake faced fewer job prospects than anticipated following his trade school training. Fortunately, a timely referral by a friend at Keystone presented the chance to start a new role as an associate in June 2021. Once on board, he quickly began learning the ropes and realized how seamlessly this final pivot lined up with his work experience and skill set.
Though there are technical aspects of HOA management necessary to learn on the job, at the core is strong customer service experience, which he maintains from years of interacting with customers face-to-face in his previous positions. Keystone has always focused on growth for its employees, and in a matter of months, his potential was recognized and he was given a clear path to take what he’s learned as an associate to prepare for his next big move.
Growing into the role as a MIT
Success as an MIT depends on the individual’s ability to absorb the information and make meaningful strides toward fulfilling the responsibilities as a HOA community manager. As observed by Keystone’s leadership team, it’s Jake’s positive attitude, willingness to learn as well as take on new challenges, and the capacity to understand the fundamentals of community management that have allowed him to catapult his career at such a fast pace.
However, Jake credits the mentorship he’s received from great supervisors and the experience of working on large accounts in helping to hone his skills and shift toward managerial responsibilities. In his experience thus far, he’s learned how to interact with homeowners in the community, identify how to conduct productive board meetings, and determine what’s necessary to meet the community’s expectations.
Currently, he oversees three properties, and his role involves a lot more time working closely with the board of directors and managing the business of the homeowner’s association, such as renovations, landscaping, and financials for the community. It’s a challenge he likes and one he’s well-equipped to handle.
Moving toward becoming a community manager
Jake appreciates the healthy balance of support that he receives from Keystone management when tackling the day-to-day as he continues to learn and grow in his MIT role. His supervisors continue their assistance with regular check-ins to answer questions, discuss strategies, and help with any pressing issues. On the other side, he appreciates one of Keystone’s core values that empowers each team member to treat the community as their own so there’s autonomy in his role which allows him to perform his duties with the confidence to make decisions on his own.
As for what’s next, Keystone will help facilitate Jake’s continued growth and education in the community association management industry by supporting him through the Community Associations Institute’s (CAI) M-100: The Essentials of Community Association Management course. The M-100 course will prepare him for the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) exam so he can earn his designation and officially move into the role of community manager. In addition, Keystone provides ongoing training internally providing all community management staff with knowledge and industry resources, important points of contact, and valuable insights to apply to his own properties.
He says, “I’m only about a year in, and I’d rate my experience at Keystone a 10, thus far. It’s great working for a company where people are happy to see one another, supportive, and always willing to lend a helping hand. I’m also thankful to be working with great communities that have been receptive to me and have made my job that much more enjoyable.”
For anyone wanting to follow a similar career path at Keystone, Jake advises leaning on the internal support system when feeling stuck or backed into a corner. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make your intentions known. He says receiving immediate responses from his supervisors, who’ve enabled his ideas to move forward, and the continuous knowledge and resources that he’s been provided have been paramount to his accelerated growth and success.
The reward of seeing where the road takes you
Like many, Jake starts his mornings with a cup of coffee and takes things day by day, situation by situation. He draws inspiration from the board members he works with who volunteer their time and energy for the love of their community and their efforts to make it better. He values the sense of accomplishment he receives in helping homeowners resolve issues and hopes to always leave them with a positive experience.
To be able to alleviate even a little bit of stress for homeowners by providing good solutions that allow community members to enjoy their HOA is truly rewarding. Then, once the workday ends, he often grabs dinner with friends, heads to the beach to surf, or simply relaxes with a walk around the community to soak in the moment and take note of how far he has come.
At Keystone, we support growth at all levels, in our communities and among our team members. If you are interested in exploring a rewarding career in HOA management, browse our recent job opportunities and submit your resume today.