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MBA Summer Internship Recap: A Platform for Future Success

by Ross Jacobson Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Just three weeks into the fall semester, the Graaskamp Center for Real Estate’s second-year MBA students took a brief pause to think back on their summer break.

The nine students all individually explained how they secured internships last academic year, recapped their experience working at their respective companies over the summer, and also gave advice to the many first-year Graaskamp students in attendance on Friday morning.

Most of the second-years students pointed out how integral Graaskamp Center Faculty Associate Sharon McCabe was in the recruiting process by passing on links to internship postings or giving personal recommendations to the companies themselves.

And all of them noted how much the Graaskamp’s first-year curriculum helped them thrive over the three-month summer break working in the real world.

“The first year gave me tangible skills that were directly relatable to what I did on the job and without them I wouldn’t have had nearly as much success,” said Nick Brown, who was a Summer Real Estate Associate at Pacific Life Insurance Company in Newport Beach, Calif.

The nine students were spread out all over the country from Los Angeles to New York, including two who stayed to work with companies in the Madison area.

Although each had distinctive experiences, they all returned for their final year in the program with additional vital skills and knowledge that will prepare them for their next steps after graduation in May.  

“What I enjoyed the most was seeing a variety of properties and working in a close-knit team where I was given real responsibility,” said Nicholas Mussatti, who worked as a Summer Associate for HQ Capital in New York.

Below is a quick recap on each student’s internship.

BezouskaJohn Bezouska, Everwest Real Estate Partners, Finance and Acquisitions Intern. Denver, CO

What were your main responsibilities during your internship?
I did a lot finance which I had never really done before which was really interesting. Cash-flow modeling on pro formas and establishing business plans, structuring new plans. I also did acquisitions. I did research on new markets based on returns through data and then I underwrote deals with the regional acquisitions guys. As far as asset management, I didn’t do a ton of leasing, but more structuring within the buildings themselves. At the firm there’s a constant attempt to get the most value out of everything.

What was the most important thing you gained from your experience?
Connections and getting to meet with a lot of the top people in the company in just a very open atmosphere that allowed me to get insights.


BrownNick Brown, Pacific Life Insurance Company, Summer Real Estate Associate. Newport Beach, CA

What were your main responsibilities during your internship?
I underwrote deals. Investments ranged from $50 million to $300 million. Part of being on the insurance side is that you don’t involve yourself with small deals. The investments I helped underwrite were core deals. They do all kinds of assets. I underwrote, personally, multifamily, hotel, industrial portfolio, retail, office. I probably spent 50 percent of my time underwriting deals, you sit in on investment committee meetings. It’s cool to get that perception of how they think. My summer project worked out great because they’re transitioning from Argus DCF to Enterprise so I spent half of my time redoing their underwriting model for Enterprise.

What was the most important thing you gained from your experience?
Understanding the underwriting process of deals and what mindset the directors had when scrutinizing an investment.


CapobiancoGrady Capobianco, Prologis, MBA Intern. Chicago, IL

What were your main responsibilities during your internship?
I had a variety of roles. I was assisting the leasing group and capital deployment teams. With my background in construction they let me be involved in some of the pre-construction meetings and site meetings. I was involved in lease negotiations with our leasing team and some acquisition underwriting for a new development their starting in Chicago.

What was the most important thing you gained from your experience?
Experience in part of the industry I had no prior experience in and just learning how a major real estate global company functions.


CorbaeBethany Corbae, Invesco, Summer Underwriting Intern. Dallas, TX

What were your main responsibilities during your internship?
I did the primary underwriting for their investments, retail product, some industrial. I did the first half of the model. I would present the model to senior analysts, make tweaks, help present at investment committees, go on site visits with brokers and market research.

What was the most important thing you gained from your experience?
I learned a lot of technical skills in Excel modeling, Argus. The most important thing I did there was I actually learned more what I wanted to be doing. Because Invesco was such a wide-reaching company I got to see different aspects of the real estate industry. I know now that I want to be in portfolio client management.


GatesFordy Gates, Hines, Development Intern. Washington D.C.

What were your main responsibilities during your internship?
I helped start up their industrial platform. We built a model together and then searched for land parcels. It was interesting going through that process. I also did asset management and tracked their northern suburb portfolio. Then came out with an investment strategy going forward for them.

What was the most important thing you gained from your experience?
Developmental experience and how to start a platform. How to really start growing, kind of like a business. It’s something that you can use later on and something, when you get into the industry, how to grow within the company and how to start something as well. The experience I got was more ground-up development from a platform.


MoitaVincent Moita. Hovde Properties, Real Estate Development Analyst. Madison, WI

What were your main responsibilities during your internship?
It was really the perfect summer. It was just development. I was doing pro formas. I was going out and meeting with city officials. I met with the different alders in the area, really working through the process, trying to get political capital come entitlement. I was also doing some legal analysis. I’m a JD/MBA … so I was looking at zoning, looking at the different ways to try to get the cities to kind of what to do what we want to do. Looking through their master plans, general neighborhood plans, everything to find language to throw at the city and get them to see the vision we had for different projects.

What was the most important thing you gained from your experience?
Different perspective and gaining exposure to different asset types that I hadn’t had before. Learned more about the development process. It’s kind of a complex beast and it was good getting more tangible experience with it.


MussattiNicholas Mussatti, HQ Capital, Summer Associate. New York, NY

What were your main responsibilities during your internship?
Having a not-defined role was actually a really good thing. I was part of the investment team, a dozen people are on that team. I was working directly with people who were the ultimate shot-callers. You’re in a group, you can talk to anybody and doors are open. I really liked that. I basically acted like an associate but I didn’t have established relationships with developers and brokers. I didn’t have commercial background and I asked for a commercial opportunity which is generally out of their norm. Then I transitioned to helping them find the first marquee deal for their fund. 

What was the most important thing you gained from your experience?
Seeing the finance and investment aspect of real estate. I hadn’t worked on that before. Seeing how institutional relationships work in real estate, that was probably the biggest thing.


VossLuke Voss – North Central Group, Development Intern. Middleton, WI

What were your main responsibilities during your internship?
Some financial modeling for new hotel deals. I looked at past operating data from our 25-plus hotels that we own and operate and use that data to create pro formas for new development. I put together development budgets for two hotel deals based on past development data that we had. I did a little bit with site acquisitions, planning and due diligence. Did a little bit with asset management and looking at our hotel portfolio and past return history, capital reserves, and a little bit of construction management as well.

What was the most important thing you gained from your experience?
Working with entrepreneurial real estate development. It’s what I’d like to do when I graduate here eventually. Gained some insight on tips and tricks in the real estate world.


WuJulia Wu, Future Land, Summer Associate. Los Angeles, CA

What were your main responsibilities during your internship?
They asked me to do waterfall analysis and reviewed joint venture agreements and contracts. I found there were many errors in the waterfalls terms because they don’t have many people to review them specifically. I helped them to correct those errors. I analyzed the IRR at the project level and fund level. That helped me to learn more about how to analyze at those levels.

What was the most important thing you gained from your experience?
I never did any financial analysis before. What I got most from the internship was I I got an opportunity to practice what I learned in school and I think I did it well. I got an opportunity to learn the development process and especially the entitlement process because it is really difficult for the developers overseas.