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Real Estate MBA Class of 2014 Internship Update

by Staff Monday, July 15, 2013

As we approach the mid-way point of summer, the Graaskamp Center staff checked in with a few of its up-and-coming real estate professionals to hear more about their summer internship positions.

Ramesh KanthilalRamesh Kanthilal
Summer Associate
Cohen Financial
Chicago, Illinois

Describe your position and job responsibilities:

Cohen Financial is a national real estate capital services company and an originator of commercial real estate debt and equity transactions. The company functions as an intermediary between users and providers of capital. The summer intern program at Cohen Financial is a rotational program consisting of three four-week rotations in the Loan Origination, Valuation, and Asset Management departments of the firm. 

What do you enjoy most about your internship?

The most interesting part of my internship experience has been the ability to witness both sides of a financing transaction. Working for an intermediary provides a unique opportunity to understand the needs of both the borrower and the lender. We work with borrowers to first understand their project and investment goals. We then source capital that is consistent with the objectives of the borrower. Throughout the process, Cohen Financial facilitates all negotiations between the capital provider and borrower. Being able to witness this process has given me a greater understanding of the different perspectives of the parties involved.

What do you hope to gain from your internship experience?

I accepted the internship with Cohen Financial to learn the commercial real estate financing process and to expand my network within the real estate finance industry. 

How has your first year in the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program supported your internship duties?

The first year in the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program was excellent preparation for an internship in real estate finance. The real estate coursework reinforced and expanded on fundamental concepts, while the core coursework provided a solid foundation in general business management. Additionally, the Graaskamp Center hosted numerous real estate industry events and speaker presentations, which provided students exposure to multiple aspects of the real estate industry and ample opportunity to explore and network in areas of personal interest.

Jonathan BrownJonathan Brown
Summer Intern
Cantor Fitzgerald
Chicago, Illinois

Describe your position and job responsibilities:

My primary role in this position is underwriting properties for conduit loans. I analyze operating history, rent rolls, and local market data to ascertain whether or not a loan would fit our debt yield and service coverage parameters. I also create credit reports for senior New York management as part of our internal due diligence platform.

What do you enjoy most about your internship?

The best part of my position is analyzing a very diverse set of product types and markets. In the first month of work, I have already analyzed downtown Class A office buildings, manufactured housing communities in Florida, and a multifamily building in the middle of the Bakken oil boom in Williston, North Dakota, among many others. Additionally, it has been an incredible experience to work for our managing director, who has 30 years of GSE experience.

What do you hope to gain from your internship experience?

I enrolled in business school to develop my financial and analytic skills. This internship is the perfect opportunity to apply and hone these skills that I have worked hard on throughout my first school year.

How has your first year in the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program supported your internship duties?

The real estate finance and equity investments classes have helped me immensely, given my previous lack of experience on the debt side of the business. I was able to hit the ground running and provide valuable insights immediately with my understanding of debt basics.

Kyle Van Someren

Kyle Van Someren
Summer Associate
USAA Real Estate Company (“Realco”)
San Antonio, Texas

Describe your position and job responsibilities:

I currently work in the Global Investors Group and have supported senior executives in a number of ways. I assisted in developing strategy for a $1 billion open-ended core office fund. This involved conducting research and screening potential state and corporate pension plan investors, as well as evaluating potential markets for investment against fund strategy. I also have had the opportunity to review a portfolio deal for developing industrial properties across three eastern European countries. This included developing hedging strategies for currency exchange risk. Additionally, I have assisted in closing investor commitments to fund through the RFP response.

What do you enjoy most about your internship?

Realco operates across all primary property types and strategies: core, value-add, and opportunistic. The chance to see such a wide variety of asset types and strategies is invaluable. Additionally, I have had the chance to meet with members of different departments from asset management, development, acquisitions, global investors, and legal. I have had in-depth discussions about the company and projects they are working on. This has given me a detailed understanding of the key roles and required skills for each group. Lastly, working for a firm that draws investors from around the world and places capital all over the country is exciting and rewarding.

What do you hope to gain from your internship experience?

I am seeking to expand my network, gain new skills, increase my understanding of the operations of an institutional investor, and refine my career goals.

How has your first year in the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program supported your internship duties?

The Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program has given me the knowledge to speak competently about the U.S. real estate market and investment process with senior executives. Through my gained understanding of macro-economic impacts on the real estate markets, I am able to positively contribute to the Realco’s fund strategy. Lastly, the technical skills developed through the program have allowed me to efficiently complete my work and not stumble through associate-level tasks.

Amber HouseAmber House
Portfolio Strategy and Market Planning Intern
Global Store Development
Starbucks Coffee Company
Seattle, Washington

Describe your position and job responsibilities:

The Portfolio Strategy and Market Planning team within Global Real Estate is the consultative, analytic, and system support team for real estate professionals and executives in the field and regional support centers. Team analysis includes market cannibalization modeling, impact and market share analysis, market planning and holding capacity, acquisition analysis and forecasting. Market Planning works directly with Store Development executives and field support project teams, providing analytic and consulting tools focused toward specific corporate goals and initiatives related to real estate acquisition and development.

I have been tasked with developing a deep integrated market plan and trend prototype for store development using one “strategic area” incorporating Company Operated, Licensed Stores, and Food Service & Channel Development. I am taking the work Starbucks is currently undergoing on the New Jersey drive-through penetration market plan and replicating and refining this behavior of work for a “strategic area” within our U.S. portfolio. Included is a larger focus of all brands within the market ,integrating Company Operated, Licensed Stores, and Food Service & Channel Development. 

My deliverables are as follows:  

  • Create an integrated market plan prototype incorporating all Starbucks brands, market share, trends and sales for a “strategic area”
  • Create a cross-functional team within Company Operated, Channel Development, and Operations that can be used to create market plans in the future
  • Develop a prototype that can be replicated for the U.S. and Canada
  • Develop a sustainment model that defines and updates the cross functional nature of the market plan

What do you enjoy most about your internship?

I enjoy the entrepreneurial and collaborative work environment and the highly analytical nature of my role.  Starbucks Coffee Company has an endless repertoire for innovation and impact within communities worldwide and it’s also fun to see how projects and initiatives are created at the corporate headquarters. Starbucks Coffee Company provides a comprehensive and well-supported internship experience, allowing interns to truly focus on their projects and where they can contribute within the company.

What do you hope to gain from your internship experience?

I would like to gain a robust understanding of the factors and trends in a market that drive the Starbucks store and market-based decision-making process. Additionally, I seek a cross functional understanding of both global store development and operations and channel development. I also hope to understand key functions and business processes within global real estate and market planning for a multinational global brand.

How has your first year in the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program supported your internship duties?

The Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program has provided me with an opportunity to contribute to the global market planning team and process from a direct real estate perspective. Specifically, with my real estate market knowledge, I have an opportunity to provide additional insight to the market planning team in a way that is actionable and relevant for store development managers in the field.


Michael ZoellnerMichael Zoellner
Summer Associate
Allianz Real Estate of America
Westport, Connecticut and New York City, New York

Describe your position and job responsibilities:

This summer, Allianz is working to update their debt portfolio to current market values. I am responsible for over 40 assets in all different markets and property types. I am also contributing to our loan origination process through underwriting and due diligence.

What do you enjoy most about your internship?

I have really enjoyed working with the team at Allianz. They are very engaged and knowledgeable about all facets of the commercial real estate market, and they do a great job of being available for questions. I have also enjoyed breaking into other asset classes like office, industrial, and retail. Most of my experience has been in multifamily, so it has been refreshing to learn more about other sectors of real estate. Lastly, I have enjoyed working with the other interns from around the country. They are a great group of people and we get along really well.

What do you hope to gain from your internship experience?

In addition to learning more about a variety of property types, I have always wanted to live in New York City, so getting to know the city by spending time there for work and for fun on weekends is important to me. Also, I am hoping to continue to expand my real estate knowledge base. I am very lucky to be able to learn and gain expertise from the people who work here.

How has your first year in the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program supported your internship duties?

After the first year in the program, I have a better understanding of technical valuation methods that I use every day at the office. Additionally, the program has been invaluable in helping me understand general market knowledge and trends. We were provided many opportunities to attend events with some of the top real estate professionals in the world. Interacting with and hearing from these professionals keeps me informed of current hot topics in the real estate market.