First Step Realty

Scher brings new talent into his brokerage by recruiting business-savvy college interns from Boston-area universities. The interns receive course credit and real-world experience.

School of hard knocks: Scher got his start in a similar way, earning his license at 18 and working his way through college at four different companies before opening his own brokerage in June 2005. He passes on to the interns the hard lessons he learned in the early years. "I tell new salespeople that they're going to succeed eventually, but you have to be able to handle rejection," says Scher, who closed $9.5 million in sales last year.

The IT factor: A full-time information technology staffer -- who got his start as an intern -- set up a customized system to feed listings from the MLS to about 20 different real estate Web sites that Scher maintains. Scher participates in MLSs in four other states in order to help clients market homes in the overlapping New England markets.