While his friends in high school were bagging groceries or working in retail, Carson Tully wanted to do something different. The Malden, Massachusetts, native was interested in real estate — he had family members who managed property, and he enjoyed shows like “Million Dollar Listing” — so he happily took an executive administrative assistant position at Fiorelli Realty Associates in Boston’s North End.

“I basically did everything that a Realtor does — show apartments, take pictures, run checks to landlords across town — except collect a commission,” says Tully, who got his real estate license as soon as he turned 18 and worked as a rental specialist while pursuing his business administration degree (finance concentration) from the Manning School of Business.

“It was a great way to help pay tuition,” says Tully, who’s had several other side hustles through college. The former Malden Catholic High School hockey player works as an official for USA Hockey, refereeing everything from learn-to-skate to men’s leagues. He is also a correspondent for the Boston Globe sports department, covering local high school hockey games.

“It’s not easy to find the time, but I like to think I work hard,” he says.

Tully also found time for a co-op job at MFS Investment Management during his junior year, working with internal controls in the fund treasury risk department. As a senior, he landed an eight-week commercial real estate internship through Project Destined, a program that helps students build their technical, financial and leadership skills.

“I loved it. It was right up my alley,” says Tully, who enjoyed learning how to evaluate the market and determine if a property is a good investment. “I know the rental market business, and the internship circled that back to purchasing an acquisition property, as well.”

As president of the Real Estate Network Association (RENA), Tully helped grow membership in the student organization from 30 to around 170, bringing in successful brokers from the Boston area to talk about their careers.

Why does Tully prefer real estate to other finance careers such as investment banking or securities trading?

“I like that you can go touch it and see it and improve it,” he says. “If you own $100,000 worth of S&P (stocks), it’s awesome to watch it grow, but with property, there’s almost an emotional connection that you can have. … You have to know your numbers, but you also have to be personable for the deal to go through, to make the puzzle fit.”

While the Manning School, like most business schools, doesn’t yet offer a real estate-specific program, Tully says he still learned a lot about the industry from faculty members such as Prof. Kimberly Merriman and Visiting Faculty Lecturer Milissa Moynihan — both RENA advisors.

“The professors have been awesome. They care about real estate, which has helped that niche community grow through RENA,” says Tully, who was glad to see the Manning School recently introduce a real estate finance course, taught by adjunct Raymond Weicker

Tully plans to continue for his MBA in the Manning School through the Plus 1 Program — and he has an offer to work as a real estate advisor with Engel & Völkers while in grad school.

“I’m in no rush,” he says. “I feel like everybody had two years stripped from them by the pandemic. I want to take a deep breath, finish up my degree and see what’s out there.”