Written by: Sidda Bruno
Ashley Johnson is a Junior, Speech Pathology major at the University of Texas at Austin. She started as a leasing agent with Housing Scout in the Fall 2019 semester and ranked as a Top Ten producing agent. Here is a short interview we had with her to let you get to know her better.
Ice cream or cake?
“Oooo, probably, cake.”
Cake or pie?
Sweet or salty?
“I’m more of a salty person, like chips, like crackers, popcorn”
Dogs or cats?
“Dogs, 100%. I do like cats too but, dogs are just so friendly and cats aren’t always friendly”
Where are you from?
“Dallas. I’m from a little bit south of Dallas, it’s a town called Red Oak. It’s a suburb.”
What makes you miss home?
“My mother. I just love her, she’s my mom. Everybody loves their mom…hopefully!”
How has your hometown changed?
“It’s definitely become more diverse. There’s an increasing Hispanic and African American population. Also, it’s becoming more like a city. It used to be more pure country, no Wamart, no Chik Fil A, no Chipotle and now we have all of that.”
“I am a junior and speech pathology major. I picked that major because I really love helping people and I also really like speech therapy because I have an uncle who has a stutter and I like learning more about that and how to treat conditions like that.”
What do you enjoy about college?
“Just being on my own, not being under my parent’s supervision 24/7. Also, my friends and the community that I’ve been a part of here. I really feel like an adult now, and I really like that.”
Would you rather eat a handful of bumblebees or poison ivy?
“Probably the poison ivy because the bees, immediately, you will be stung in the mouth.”
What organizations are you involved in?
“I am only involved in FLY, Fearless Leadership Institute and it is basically an org where a bunch of women of color come together and support and uplift each other. We talk about different things each week in the meetings, it’s pretty cool. There are things that we do outside of the meetings like we have a FLY Retreat every year where we go camping for 2-3 days as a spiritual thing. The executive board also just went to New York. I would say there are maybe 100 girls in FLY. I don’t do much else on campus, I really just go to class, come home and do real estate.”
What does the ‘college experience’ mean to you?
“When I think of the college experience, for me, obviously the studying and academic part, the dying that we do, but also just meeting a bunch of new people from all over and basically starting your life over.”
Tell us about your family!
“I don’t have any siblings, I am an only child. I lived with my parents, they’re still together thankfully. They support me a lot. I don’t really have much extended family, some aunts and uncles, but no really close cousins. We’re just a tight little trio.”
What do you do on your days off?
“I like to lay in bed, watch YouTube videos, Netflix, eat food and just relax completely and decompress. I really enjoyed Game of Thrones, that is my favorite show ever. I really like Realty TV, that’s a guilty pleasure – Keeping up with the Kardashians, Real Housewives of Atlanta and the spinoffs Life of Kylie and Kourtney & Khloe Take the Hamptons.”
What’s your dream car?
“Probably a Lamborghini truck. They’re so beautiful, I’d get it all white with brown on the inside – I’ve already thought about all of this. They’re just so pretty to me, anytime I see one I just have to stop and stare.”
What’s your favorite holiday?
“Is your birthday a holiday? I would say my birthday or Christmas, but probably my birthday because I like to go all out every year. Growing up I didn’t have many birthday parties which is why now when I’m on my own I make it a priority to have a birthday party every year. It just depends, sometimes I’ll have a party – like this year I did because I turned 21. But other years I’ll just do something with my friends, my close friends. I like to be in control so I’ll plan the party – my friends will throw in little surprises here and there but the main function, that’s all me.”
Why did you get your Real Estate License?
“My mom is actually a real estate agent so I grew up around real estate my whole life. It’s something that has been a part of my life, so I knew I wanted to get into it. I love going into big, pretty houses and looking around. Also helping people, I really like helping people a lot.”
What’s a misconception about your job?
“I think a lot of people think that real estate agents are just out to get money, like they’ll just put you anywhere or scam you just to get a commission. I feel like for some real estate agents that’s true, but in my case, I really try to help everyone and put them somewhere where they’re comfortable. I don’t just try to get the commission out of everybody, I show people where I think it’ll truly be their best fit.”
Do you have any funny stories from one of your leasing tours?
“One time I went on a tour and I texted the current tenant who lives there the day before, a whole 24 hours in advance, and I said ‘hey, is it okay if I come and do a tour?’ and he said ‘yes’. He said ‘come before 3:30pm’ and I said ‘that’s perfect’. So I go to his apartment with my client at 3pm, and he wasn’t there, so I assumed he was just at work or something. First of all, there were a lot of illegal things laying around, so I just try to keep the tour positive and ignore it – I didn’t want to ruin the tour. About halfway through the tour, he comes home and he says ‘what are you doing in my apartment?!’. And I checked that it was him that I texted and he said yes — but that he wasn’t here so why were we here – ‘I don’t like when people come into my apartment without my permission’ and I said ‘Well, I did get your permission, sir, I texted you’. My client then took out her phone and started recording, but he went off on me for probably a full 5 minutes. I just asked if we could finish the tour and he said ‘you were going to anyways’, so we finished and then we left – he pushed us out the door. I knew my client prior so we laughed it off.”
How does it feel to help sign a lease?
“It is so rewarding, it really is. I didn’t expect it to feel as rewarding as it does, but I love finding people places that they actually enjoy where they’re gonna be living. It just makes you feel good inside.”
How do you balance your schedule?
“ I schedule my work based on my class schedule. Whenever I have a huge break in between classes or if I’m done early, I’ll take tour after my classes and that’s been working well for me. I try to do six tours a week, very rarely will I go over that – but I try to keep it 4-6.”
Do you have a funny story from notifying tenants?
“Sometimes on the availability sheets that the company sends out, the tenant phone numbers can sometimes be wrong. One time I texted a group of roommates, so 3 numbers, and one of the ‘tenants’ said “Umm, I’m 12”, so I guess that was the wrong person!”
What is your favorite candy?
“I don’t eat candy, but if I do, it’s Reese’s pieces.”
What’s a talent you wish you had?
“I wish I could sing, honestly. I am so tone-deaf, it is pretty embarrassing. Both my roommates can sing so they’ll sing and I wish I could join but I don’t want to ruin it.”
Who is your favorite musician?
“Everyone loves Beyoncé, even if you don’t like Beyoncé, you have to give her credit. She’s amazing. I want to say Rihanna but she’s kinda making me upset because she’s not dropping any albums. I think the last one was Anti, and that was so long ago. Honestly, maybe Young Thug. I really like him because he is so different than all the other Hip-Hop artists. He has some country songs, that aren’t really country songs, but sound like it and they’re still great. He’s just so versatile, every song from him is different.”
What gets you excited about your job?
“The commission! I love receiving those checks, knowing that if this person signs this lease, I have hundreds of dollars coming my way. That’s what gets me excited, knowing I can buy things for myself.”
How do you advertise your business?
“I actually have an Instagram dedicated just to apartments, it is @ashleyfindsapartments. That’s where I do most of my advertising but also just word of mouth, I let people know, “if you need housing, hit me up”. I had a guy in one of my classes and we were just chatting small talk, and he said ‘I need to find housing for next year’ and I said ‘wow, you’re talking to the right person’. Incorporating it into a conversation, 9/10, you’re gonna get a client.”
What’s something you’ve done recently that you’re proud of?
“This isn’t too recently, but this summer I went skydiving in South Africa. I studied abroad in Cape Town and there’s a lot of excursions you can do, I had the choice between skydiving or going on a safari. And I thought, I could go on the safari and see the animals but I want to do something that’s gonna terrify me, I love thrills. I said, why not just go skydiving, and surprisingly I was not scared at all, even when he opened the plane door and we were 15,000 ft above earth. I wasn’t scared, I just jumped. I did have an internship out there, I interned with YMCA out there but it wasn’t necessarily pertaining to my major.”
What’s your dream superpower?
“I would fly. I just want to know what that’s like. I would fly everywhere, or teleporting instead of having to physically get up and move.”
What gets you off your phone?
“Hanging out with my friends. When I’m with my friends, I don’t get on my phone. Or if I’m into a good show, like KUWTK. But really just when I’m spending time with people.”
Who do you look up to?
“My mom. She’s a real estate agent so in that aspect, I do, but also her work ethic and how many things she has on her plate at all times – she still makes it work. She’s always so supportive of me and she provides for me everything that I need so I really look up to her.”
Do you like to read?
“I used to read. I would read teenage drama books. I read the Twilight series twice, but I’m trying to get back into reading – that was one of my goals for 2020. Now that I’m older I’m reading financial literacy books because I need to stop spending money the way I do, or self-help books.”
What’s your dream vacation?
“Somewhere tropical, there has to be a beach involved and nice weather. Not too terribly hot but hot enough to be on the beach. Also, good food, I really love seafood and I also like Cajun food a lot. If I can find a tropical place with Cajun food, that’d be great.”
What’s a sauce you use all the time?
“Ranch on pizza, carrots, salad, I put ranch in spaghetti. Even with the marinara sauce, trust me on that one. I can also put ketchup on a lot of things – eggs, mac & cheese, trust me you need to try it – I would not steer you wrong.”
How do you maintain work/student/life balance?
“I balance it all, but I can get overwhelmed very easily. I try to schedule time where it’s just ‘me’ time, no talking to clients, no homework. I make sure to get all of my stuff out of the way so I have time to decompress. I learned very quickly with this job that if you procrastinate, you’re setting yourself up for failure and lots of unnecessary stress. I just to get everything out of the way quickly and in advance.”
What’s your favorite Starbucks drink?
“I don’t drink coffee that much, but I start off with the Iced Almond Milk Latte but I’ve migrated to the Vanilla Sweet Cream Frappuccino, you have to try it. I get extra vanilla.”
What’s your favorite fast-food place?
“That’s a tough one. I would have to say Chik Fil A, they always come through. I get 4 ct. strip meal, large fries, large drink. Maybe I’ll get a Hi-C sometimes but recently it’s been a strawberry milkshake.”
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be?
“This is gonna be so weird when I say it, but probably Snoop Dog. I think he’s so cool, I would just love to meet him and talk to him. I always see him on TV, he looks great and I would just love to see what he’s like in person. He’s so funny, I would just love to see what he’s like.”
What’s your least favorite chore?
“Hand-washing dishes. Hands get pruny, dry, and seeing the leftover food is bleh.”
Do you typically walk to drive for tours in West Campus?
“Drive, I haven’t done a walking tour yet. I pick them up, I’ve only had one client where I met them at a location.”
What’s in your Spotify playlist?
“I don’t have a Spotify, I’m an Apple-music type of girl. I’m thinking about making the switch though. I’ve really been listening to a lot of Roddie Ricch, he has a new album. Also, I’ve been listening to Kendrick Lamar – Money Tree specifically. And Lil Wayne, I’ve been feeling Lil Wayne recently – and I just got into Billie Eilish, I haven’t been listening to her for a while and I finally decided to listen to her album and I really love it. Xanny is such a great song and then I thought, let me listen to the rest, and I ended up liking all the other songs so I am a Billie-Stan now. I’m not a stalker fan like the original meaning is, but when I say I stan someone it means I’m really behind someone and I really like them.”
What makes you feel creative?
“I used to know how to crochet, but really when I post on my Instagram and I have pictures that I’m editing – I feel creative when I’m picking out filters, and I’m really good at captions. I used to be bad but now I’m getting better. I see the picture and I pick out a key thing in the picture that I think could be funny or clever and use that.”
What’s your morning routine?
“I have to wake up twice, so I’ll wake up before my alarm and kind of get on my phone for a little bit and then doze back off. When my alarm goes off I’ll wake up fully. I usually naturally wake up before my alarm, but if I have to fully wake up with my alarm, I’ll be so sleepy throughout the day. I get ready for the day, most of the time if it’s before class I just wash my face, brush my teeth, throw on clothes and I’m out the door.”
What are some of your favorite snacks?
“Chips, any type of chip. My new favorite candy, actually, I just remembered, is sour gummy worms!”
What’s a meal you could eat whenever?
“Pasta, I love pasta a lot. Alfredo, any type of alfredo, I could eat it every day. Or nachos.”
How have you changed since high school?
“I’ve just gotten a new perspective on life. As you get older, you experience more things and I feel like I’ve grown mentally and I see things differently. I’m more mature, I am more self-sustainable and don’t need to ask my mom for things as much.”
What is a cherished piece of advice you’ve received?
“You know you go through it with boys, and my mom told me that if someone wants to be in your life, then they’ll stay in your life and if they want to leave then let them go because they’re not supposed to be there anyway. I think about that a lot as I go through stuff with people, if people want to leave, let them go – it’s their loss.”
What’s the last concert you went to?
“Alina Baraz, I think it was September/October of my Sophomore year. The way her voice sounds, her songs are just so magical. She sounded just like she does in her songs.”
What’s the best gift you’ve received?
“I’ve received some good gifts over the years but my grandma actually gave me one of her heirlooms that came in a little glass case. It was a ballerina type trinket and she gave it to me when I was super young and I still have it, so that was probably the best. I have it at home in Dallas, safe, so when I’m home, every once in awhile, I’ll go look at it.”
What makes you laugh?
“A lot of things make me laugh. My friends are hilarious, I love comedy movies and stupid comedy shoes. The Office, especially, – I have very dry crude humor and that’s what gets me every time.”
What do you see yourself doing as a career?
“I do like my major but I also do have a passion for real estate so I feel like I’m going to pursue real estate after I graduate and see how that goes for me. But if that doesn’t work out, I’m going to take the grad school route and actually become a speech pathologist.”
How do you see yourself in 10 yrs?
“What am I, 21? So, I’ll be 31. Definitely financially stable, I want to have a career that I enjoy whether that be with real estate or speech pathology. I want to be happy with the path that I choose. I would like to have a husband and possibly a child by that time, but who knows. I mainly want to just be happy with what I’m doing.”
Anything to add?
“I’m really nice, and I’ll definitely show you places that I think will best fit you!”