Weiser Center Hosts Immersive Real Estate Program for Michigan Ross and U-M Undergrads in NYC
In May, the Weiser Center for Real Estate at the Ross School of Business held its inaugural Real Estate Academy in New York City to provide an immersive experience in real estate investing and development to undergraduate students at the University of Michigan.
The goal of the four-day Real Estate Academy was to spark the students’ interest in real estate by increasing their understanding of the industry, confidence in navigating their academic and career journeys to fulfilling real estate jobs, and connection to the industry’s professional networks. The academy included a site visit to Related Companies’ headquarters, where students learned about its various business units and internship opportunities; a real estate finance seminar at D&A Companies; a boat tour of new developments from Manhattan to Brooklyn; an overview of public-private partnerships with Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation; and networking with Michigan Ross and U-M alumni.
“A core objective of the Weiser Center for Real Estate is to build strong industry partnerships so that we can create accessible and immersive learning programs for our students,” said Jake Albers, the center’s managing director. “Through the Real Estate Academy, employers, industry leaders, and passionate Michigan alumni were able to share their knowledge and experience to provide the students with a comprehensive exploration of the real estate industry and create a foundation for them to continue that exploration throughout their time at U-M and beyond.”
The Weiser Center’s Real Estate Academy was funded by the Blau Initiative for Diversity in Real Estate and Infrastructure at Michigan Ross, which was established by a $6 million gift from Stephen M. Ross, BBA '62, chairman and founder of Related, and Jeff T. Blau, BBA '90, Related’s chief executive officer. A key component of the initiative is to offer students from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to learn about real estate and investing and increase their interest in real estate careers.
Sixteen undergraduate students — including 12 Michigan Ross BBAs — were accepted into the academy’s first cohort. Of those students, 11 of them also participated in Ross Outreach Programs, such as the Preparation Initiative, Ross Summer Connection program, Ross Summer Business Academy, and MReach. The Weiser Center plans to expand the program to include more students in future years.
The Weiser Center’s Real Estate Academy was led by Albers and Marc Norman, the center’s faculty director and director of real estate initiatives and associate professor of practice at U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
“Our partners, alumni, and most importantly, the students, made the Real Estate Academy a huge success. The students’ level of engagement, preparation, and curiosity was incredible,” said Albers. “The program was able to deliver on its goal to introduce students to the breadth and depth of the industry, and also how real estate intersects with, and is influenced by, factors like policy, transportation, and population trends.”
Learning about the real estate industry from start to finish
Hailey Love, BBA ’25, was one of the students who joined the Real Estate Academy this year. Love applied to the academy after a trip to a Florida island where she started thinking about how the beautiful homes and buildings there would be assets for families and business owners for years to come.
“I wanted to know more about the process of developing real estate as well as the business side of the industry,” she said. “I hoped that this academy would give me the opportunity to review the industry from start to finish.”
Rigo Rangel, BA ’25, said the Real Estate Academy appealed to him because of the number of opportunities the program offered.
After participating in the academy, Love said she learned a lot about how real estate developments are funded, one aspect of the industry she was previously unfamiliar with.
“During the academy, we learned a lot about the role of different investors and the timeline for developments as well as how different departments come together to manage the timeline,” she explained. “All of these insights helped me find out what skills might be helpful for me to develop at this point in my academic career.”
Rangel also left the academy with important takeaways for his future career path.
“I was considering real estate as a part of my career, but after this experience, I definitely desire to work with some form of real estate,” he said. “I feel inspired to create a positive impact in society through careers such as affordable housing, instead of simply viewing real estate as a form of investment.”
What students enjoyed most about their NYC real estate immersion
While Love said she really enjoyed being able to see the beauty of New York City’s architecture, including bird’s-eye views from the top floors of a tower in Hudson Yards, she also appreciated the opportunity to ask questions about what she saw in the academy.
“During all of our sessions, we heard from people who understand real estate from different perspectives, and we spent a lot of time exploring beautiful developments in NYC,” she said. “One day we rode on a ferry across the East River to Brooklyn, where we toured the Brooklyn Bridge Park. The park was beautiful and our tour was delivered by someone who worked on the project from the beginning. We asked about different funding sources, how the park continues to run, and what makes Brooklyn Bridge Park special in comparison to other public developments.”
For Rangel, his favorite part of the Real Estate Academy was the true immersion into real estate.
“Instead of only participating in lectures and slideshows, we also had the opportunity to walk around the city and speak to developers in a more authentic fashion,” he said. “This side of the academy offered me a better perspective of the real estate industry and allowed me to view it through the lens of real developers."
Beyond the educational and professional aspects of the academy, Rangel said he also valued the relationships he formed with other students in the program. “I am also grateful for the immense sense of community I felt with my peers. In such a short time, I was able to make several connections and create strong, long-lasting bonds,” he said.
Likewise, Love said she believed the opportunity to build connections with others in the academy added to the real estate immersion experience.