My First Position after Cornell – Tom Deighton, MMH RE Minor
Prior to Cornell, I spent two years living and working in New York. During my time in the city, I gained an interest in hospitality, which I wanted to pursue at Cornell so that I might someday be able to open my own restaurants and hotels.
During the first of three semesters of my Masters in Management in Hospitality program (minor in Real Estate), Pete Peterson, a Cornell SHA alum and Director of Food & Beverage at Related Companies, was invited to talk to us about Hudson Yards, a 20M SF mixed-use development on the West Side of Manhattan. I was immediately excited by the sheer scale and engineering of Hudson Yards – the project spans over four blocks and two avenues and is the first ever development to be built over railroad tracks – as well as its hospitality-centric mission of creating an unparalleled live, work, play environment.
Attaining the position
After strategizing with my graduate advisor (the brilliant Dave Taylor), I followed up with an email to Pete Peterson. Pete then connected me with a senior partner at Related, who happened to be looking to hire someone to help with Related’s fast growing London business. I was required by Cornell to work for anywhere between 2 and 6 weeks at a company over the Christmas period (an externship).
Therefore, I framed my discussions with the partner around wanting to come for a trial run over Christmas with the expectation of possibly working there full-time. After a few phone calls with the partner, many interviews at Related’s offices, and a case study, I was granted my externship at Related. It wasn’t until April of the following year that I received my full-time offer.
If it had not been for Cornell’s vast network of successful alumni, and their willingness to give back to the university, as well as Cornell’s dedicated staff (Dave Taylor gave me great advice throughout the recruitment process), I don’t think I would have been able to secure my position at Related.
Cornell’s real estate program uniquely structures most of its deliverables around group work, whether it involves presenting real estate opportunities to investors in the scholarly environment, or completing Excel assignments. By nature, this approach builds leadership. Over the three semesters at Cornell, I learned which skills I needed to improve on in a group setting, and which I should accentuate to the benefit of my teammates.
I improved my qualitative and quantitative real estate skill-sets thanks to my fantastic Cornell professors. During my second semester, I took principals of real estate and real estate development with Crocker Liu. Both classes required students to complete six intensive case studies, ranging from detailed market analysis to complex excel modeling, which were created my Liu himself each year from real-life scenarios.
These assignments were the greatest comparable to a deliverable in the real world. I often implement these learned skills from completed these assignments on the job now. During my third semester, I took Real Estate Finance & Investments with Wally Boudry (one of the best professors during my educational experience). He challenged the class on multiple levels in thinking to the root of every real estate concept, and confirming the class truly understood a theory from the bottom up – rather than just at its shallowness level.
I use this approach daily when I encounter a question – do I really understand every layer of this issue? My relationship with my Cornell real estate professors has extended beyond graduation, and I view them now as a crucial part of my real estate network as I progress my career.