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Every summer, Cardinal invites a group of upcoming leaders to join together at our headquarters in Denver, Colorado to spend a week pursuing growth and knowledge in our annual Summer Development Program (SDP). This year, 10 amazing Cardinal leaders came together to network, learn more about the Cardinal culture and expand their knowledge through educational sessions to learn the ins and outs of Cardinal HQ operations.

This year, attendee Juli Cantu shares her Cardinal journey and SDP experience with us. Learn more about Juli and her time in Denver below!

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Hi! My name is Juli Cantu, and I began my Cardinal journey in October 2021.

I had been working for a large bank before realizing I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing, and I needed a change. Fast forward to today, and I am an Area Manager helping to ensure that residents across two cities and three communities all have positive and memorable experiences while living within their Cardinal-managed communities.

Stepping into my role with Cardinal – I was terrified. I had previously worked in customer service positions, but taking on the responsibilities of an entire community is daunting. From the start, I would hear and read about Cardinal culture, and it was clear this was an integral part of this growing company, but I was skeptical.

I was so enthusiastic to learn I was selected to attend the summer development program dedicated to developing my leadership skills. I was delighted and astounded that this company dedicates so many resources to ensure we have the necessary building blocks to succeed in our careers. This week of exposure to headquarters operations allowed us to meet so many amazing people and learn about myriad topics – it was the best experience I have had with this company to date.

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After having the wonderful opportunity to attend the Summer Development Program, I walked away with a few nuggets that have made a lasting impression on me:

    • From the start, I would hear and read about Cardinal culture, and it was clear this was an integral part of this growing company, but I was skeptical. Culture is a living concept – constantly changing and growing. We have to embrace these changes, lean in and commit. As our CEO, Alex O’Brien said, we need to “be someone that brings culture to life.”
    • It is your responsibility to care about your growth and development more than the people around you. You should certainly network and utilize your resources, but you must put in the leg work and commit to achieving the change you want to see in your life. “People do not know who you are unless you tell them.” – Versie Wallace
    • Being your authentic self is the only way to go. This is the most frightening concept because I know I’m a lot. I’m a quirky person, but this week helped me realize that I’m successful because of my quirks. You have to take advantage of your strengths (even the weird ones) and help cultivate an environment where others feel safe. When doing this, we receive the perspective, genuine feedback, and participation required for a place of business to flourish. “As an individual, you can affect change.” – Jenn Cassidy
    • Pay attention to what drains you vs. what energizes you. Cardinal is stuffed to the gills with ridiculously amazing resources. This week has shown me that I might have an affinity for a few areas within the Cardinal umbrella, and now I know the people who can help arm me with information and advice. Evaluate what you enjoy about your job and your responsibilities and think outside of the box. I know it is called a “corporate ladder”, but Cardinal is more akin to the elevator you see at the end of Willy Wonka – you can progress by moving in whatever direction works best for you. “Invest in your future self now so that you can be at your best.” – Susie Tomenchok

    In short, I highly recommend that anyone interested in the Summer Development Program to express your interest and strive to attend this program. My biggest piece of advice to anyone thinking about entering into the property management industry is that you have to come into it with an open mind. There will be days where things are rough, but then you will have days where you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. You might be scared or afraid to take a chance on something new, and that’s ok; just do it afraid.

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