In December, Berkadia wrapped its first partnership up with Project Destined, a program that pairs student interns with real estate professionals to help learn the ins and outs of the real estate industry in a hands-on program. Team members from Berkadia Philadelphia and Atlanta mentored a group of student interns, through the ten-week program, from property analysis through valuation and financing, culminating in a deal presentation to a panel of real estate executives.
We sat down with Berkadia mentors Associate Directors Lindsey deButts and Jerry Getant to talk about their experience with the students, what they enjoyed most about the program and the lessons they learned along the way.
Project Destined offers a robust program to give students a background in CRE and offer real time experience, requiring sincere commitment from student interns and mentors alike. As a mentor, what did you find most rewarding part about the program?
Lindsey deButts (LD): It was amazing watching concepts click with the students. They came to our mentor sessions with really insightful questions and pushed for a better understanding of what it means to buy and own real estate.
Jerry Getant (JG): I really looked forward to their final presentation. Many of the students put very long hours in and were fully committed. They knocked it out of the park—demonstrating such intelligence, insight and growth! They’re all winners and I am proud of each of them.
It must be fun to work with students eager to learn and almost entirely new to the CRE industry. Has this program inspired you?
LD: Our team had the option of taking two paths on our assignment, one of them being considerably more difficult than the other. The team voted together and committed to putting in the extra time and work needed to take the harder route. Instead of just learning how to do a value-add transaction, the team decided that after seeing the property, they’d need to do a full rebuild. While the instructions never called for that level of research and work, they decided to push themselves even further. It was truly inspiring watching the team choose to go above and beyond.
JG: I agree with Lindsay. The willingness of the students to go the extra mile was very cool! It was their decision that the property should be torn down, rather than rehabbed, which required they change their business model entirely in less than a week! It was commendable and inspiring watching them band together and decide to take on the challenge with such little time.
Over the course of ten weeks, I’m sure there were lots of fun, funny and surprising moments. What’s been the most fun or interesting so far?
LD: The meetings just kept getting better and better as we all got to know each other and form relationships. There were always a few minutes at the beginning of our sessions where everyone was just chatting, whether it be about school or something they have exciting coming up, before we dove into the deal. It helped reinforce and build long lasting relationships, which is crucial in the CRE world. It might be my favorite part of the meeting!
JG: The program includes a “Mentor Hour,” which gave me the opportunity to connect with the students more directly over the ten weeks. Since the very first Mentor Hour, I quickly saw how eager and enthusiastic the students were—their energy and excitement was infectious. Interacting with the students in a more laid-back setting was so fun. And it was incredible how quickly they grasped and understood commercial real estate.
Leading up to the final pitch days, all of you—students and mentors—had put in considerable time. You must have felt invested in their pitch being successful as well! Was there a highlight of the final presentation?
LD: Seeing it all come together! Our team started off strong winning the first week and I think that really gave them the confidence to lean into the process. In each session we got to know a little more about each other both personally and professionally. I was so excited to see the final pitch and all of their hard work come to life!
JG: The final presentation was such an embodiment of what the students have gained through this program. They’ve not even learned about all things CRE, from pitching, buying/selling and owning properties, but they’ve learned what they’re able to accomplish when they put their minds to something. I think they’ve all learned just what they’re capable of, and it certainly doesn’t end with the end of the program. I’m so grateful to have been a part of it!
Berkadia is excited to continue to expand its partnership with Project Destined in 2022 to help educate and cultivate the next generation of CRE leaders.
To learn more about how and why Berkadia partnered up with Project Destined, you can check out our earlier blog, here.