09/07/2023 | by Nareit Staff

After forging a partnership last fall, the Nareit/Project Destined internship program ran this summer with a number of REITs bringing on college students identified by Project Destined for paid internships at their companies.

Founded in 2016, Project Destined is a social impact platform teaching commercial real estate, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills to students from underserved communities. Nareit’s partnership with Project Destined is one of many steps underway to support increasing awareness and increasing opportunities for the next generation of diverse leaders in the industry—an issue that is top of mind for REIT CEOs.

A selection of students who gained internship experience this summer through the Nareit/Project Destined partnership shared their thoughts on the value of their time spent at various REITs and what impact it could have on their future career choices.

How did this internship experience increase your awareness and understanding of REITs and commercial real estate (CRE)?

Keshia Albrecht, University of Southern California, Macerich (NYSE: MAC) Intern

Keshia Albrecht: This internship experience allowed me to explore both of my degrees in real estate development and construction management simultaneously. I have gained tremendous knowledge into how a commercial project comes into operation from just a vision, with insights from a multitude of professionals with various backgrounds and years of experience. I have a clearer understanding of my career path goal within CRE and I am confident I am now on the right path for my career development.

Federica Giordano, University of California AMH (NYSE: AMH) Intern

Federica Giordano: During the course of the internship, there were many experiences that significantly enhanced my understanding of REITs and CRE. One particularly fascinating aspect was gaining insights into the functioning of publicly traded entities. Engaging in tasks like assessing property performance and analyzing metrics such as NOI and cap rates played an important role in enhancing my understanding of investment aspects. Additionally, staying up to date on economic news and the markets helped me in better comprehending the external factors impacting the CRE sector.

Brittany McGee, Wayne State University Macerich (NYSE: MAC) Intern

Brittany McGee: Working with Macerich increased my awareness and understanding of the regulations and tax structures of REITs and I learned how regulatory aspects of REITs impact investment decisions, especially in the retail space. I also gained insight into inherent risks and how to identify potential risks and formulate strategies to mitigate them. Lastly, I learned industry trends, including the impact of technology and tenant preferences. 

Son Nguyen, University of Houston, Invitation Homes Inc. (NYSE: INVH) Intern

Son Nguyen: After completing this internship, I'm very sure CRE is a field that I'm interested to work in.

Maya Ody-Ajike: This internship showed me the practical aspects of real estate and immersed me in the CRE culture.

Valerie Rodriguez: This internship gave me a unique perspective on the inner workings of REITs, specifically when it comes to shopping malls and town centers. As a development intern, I got to experience how developers not only work with their team internally but also with people externally, such as contractors and the city. It takes collaboration from internal and external parties to serve a project.

Una Wang: Before my internship, I had a foundational understanding of REITs and CRE from my academic courses. However, during my time at STORE, I gained in-depth understanding of REIT operations and its investment process. I had the opportunity to work on several live and mock deals (sale and leaseback transactions), delving into credit metrics and risk parameters, which deepened my appreciation for the CRE investments. Additionally, my interactions with seasoned colleagues provided insights into the regulatory and financial nuances of REIT structures.

How do you think this internship will help your career path in the future?

Giordano: Rotating between the finance departments of AMH allowed me to gain knowledge about different aspect of the business. Through hands-on tasks and projects, I developed practical, transferrable skills in the fields of financial analysis, property valuation, and taxation analysis.

Maya Ody-Ajike, Fisk University AMH (NYSE: AMH) Intern

McGee: It has helped me to develop and refine a wide range of skills specific to real estate development, including soft skills like problem-solving and communication. Interning with Macerich will also enhance my resume, showing that I have a commitment to the field of real estate development in addition to practical knowledge.

Nguyen: It's very helpful for my future career path because I was able to improve my skills and learn about teamwork and corporate culture.

Ody-Ajike: I think this internship has helped increase my knowledge of CRE and REITs and has also taught me many transferable soft skills.

Valerie Rodriguez, University of Arizona, Macerich (NYSE: MAC) Intern

Rodriguez: Thanks to the rotational nature of the internship, I got to delve into various roles and career paths within the industry. I developed a better sense of the paths I want to pursue. I also established valuable connections with industry professionals who can provide guidance as I make progress on my career journey.

Ariana Torres, California State University-Fullerton, CBL Properties (NYSE: CBL) Intern

Torres: This internship has allowed me to leverage my analytical skills, enabling me to make more informed decisions regarding the acquisition of real estate properties. It has also played a pivotal role in supporting my decision-making processes aimed at expanding property portfolios and ultimately boosting sales.

Wang: This internship has been instrumental in honing my analytical skills, particularly in the area of credit analysis. Working hands-on with the underwriting and portfolio management team at STORE enabled me to learn how to evaluate and manage risks in different transactions. The relationships and networks I built during the internship will also serve as valuable connections as I navigate my career.

Una Wang, Cornell University STORE Capital Corp. Intern

Tell us about a project you worked on this summer that felt meaningful to you and your career development.

Ody-Ajike: Working with the resident management team in general has been the most meaningful part of my internship, and being able to learn from them has been great.

Rodriguez: Being a part of a rotational program gave me the opportunity to work closely with a variety of individuals. I gained insight into their respective roles, all contributing to the same project, including my personal favorite—Scottsdale Fashion Square. This experience equipped me with well-rounded knowledge of the industry, allowing me to understand the holistic dynamics at play.