Building Real Estate Knowledge and Relationships in NYC
When I looked at the itinerary for the Real Estate Academy in New York City hosted by the Weiser Center for Real Estate at the Ross School of Business, I knew that each day would be full of different educational, professional development, and exploration opportunities. However, the reality of traveling around New York City for four days of experiencing new things alongside 15 of my peers turned out to be even more fun, insightful, and yes, tiring, than I’d originally imagined.
My immersive real estate experience
Each day began close to 8:30 a.m. My cohort and I emerged from the elevators for breakfast around 7:45 a.m. wearing blazers, blouses, and flats. Once we all had a quick cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich, we set off. Jake Albers, managing director of the Weiser Center, stood at the front of the group to navigate, and Marc Norman, the center’s faculty director, stood at the back. As a New Yorker, Norman was able to explain the history of the buildings around us and tell us about the city through his eyes. As we walked through Manhattan on the way to Hudson Yards, we talked about city ordinances, financial incentives for developers to build public spaces, and why there are one-story corner stores next to 30-story hotels.
Once we got to Hudson Yards, we took the elevators to the 72nd floor of the building. Everyone’s ears popped on the way up, but the view made any discomfort well worth it. Once we got to the top, we saw all of Manhattan, parts of Brooklyn, and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. It was amazing and grounding all at the same time.
On the second day of the academy, we walked for miles and saw developments in other parts of the city. One thing that stood out to me about that day was learning about developments that have failed. We walked past a couple of buildings along the highline that remain unfilled because the demand for the units, for whatever reason, didn’t match what the developers were expecting. On our walk down the highline, we talked a lot about the timing of real estate developments and what happens when a development fails at any point in the construction process.
Forming life-changing relationships
One of my favorite events during the academy was the dinner with University of Michigan and Michigan Ross alumni. Walking to the restaurant, it was clear that we were all exhausted. We had spent the day walking and taking in information, and now we needed to put on our game faces and get to know even more people. I am so glad that I gave the event my all and connected with the alumni that were in attendance. At first, everyone was rotating around the room and getting to know each other. I tried to talk to every alum at least once just to introduce myself. However, then I met someone that I really connected with, Eli Tedesco. She works for CAMBA Housing Ventures, and even though I’m not experienced with housing development, we just clicked. We talked about being far from home, our professional aspirations, and making a difference in the world using our platform. Before I knew it, the event was over and we had been talking for at least an hour. Her insight made me look at this time in my life as an opportunity to shape the woman that I am and think more intentionally about my goals as a student.
Overall, I found that making connections was as important as what I learned during the Real Estate Academy. We heard about all the different departments within real estate, such as construction, development, human resources, affordable housing, and portfolio management from people who work and lead in the industry. We even had a conversation with the CEO of Related Companies, Jeff Blau, BBA '90. Not only did these speakers explain what they do everyday, but they answered all of our questions and helped us understand how they got from our position as students to theirs as successful professionals.
Along the way, we had so much fun and developed friendships with one another. I took away a lot of great lessons from the academy, but the most valuable to me was the importance of building strong personal and professional relationships. Not only are we able advance our careers using relationships, but all deals are decided based on trust. This lesson is something that I will carry through my academic and professional career. I absolutely loved the academy and I believe that this experience will change the lives of cohorts to come.