If you are lucky enough to have a summer internship within real estate, here are some tips to maximize the value of your summer experience.
First, many firms use summer internships as their primary source for hiring full time employees. They view the summer experience as an eight to ten-week interview during which candidates are judged on skill sets, personality, attention to detail and “fit” within the company culture. As an intern you should be doing the same due diligence, determining whether if given an offer you really want to work for the company long term.
Second, even if you decide sometime during the summer that if given the opportunity, this will not be your dream job, it is important to do your best, get that offer and be in control of your future with the company. It is always much harder to explain why you did not get an offer than why you declined.
Third, companies usually do not hire interns so that the interns will have a learning experience that benefits the interns and not the company. We hear from some candidates that they take a summer job to have a brief experience in a particular aspect of the business that will “round out their education” but that they do not have any interest long term in the sector. This strategy may make for an interesting summer but will make getting a full-time job in their preferred area of focus more difficult.
Fourth, if you cannot find a traditional summer internship in real estate that does not mean that you should do something outside the industry. Be entrepreneurial and work on a “Big Idea” that you think might change the industry. Check out opportunities in the Gig Economy. Companies like EY now have offerings online for temporary work that you might not have thought of. And always remember that real estate takes many forms including corporate real estate, government projects and entrepreneurship.
Fifth, and maybe the most important tip, is to use your membership in the Cornell Real Estate Council network to its fullest extent during your summer experience. For example, if your summer internship is in Dallas, search for CREC members in the area and get to know them while you are in town. Regional chapters are a great source of events, networking opportunities and sources of employment if for any reason your summer internship does not lead to a full-time job.
Have a great summer!