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Making the Right Connection

By: R. Matthew Wallace

As anyone who has a breadth of real estate experience will tell you, the real estate industry, unlike many other industries does not have a typical formalized hiring process.  Many times the key to taking the next step in your career is making the right connection with someone who works in a field, company, or city you desire to learn more about.

MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) provides the opportunity for those connections to occur.  IAP is unique to MIT.  All MIT students have the month of January off, which provides students the opportunity to participate in externship opportunities through MIT alums and other industry leaders and/or attend workshops on campus, such as taking Excel modeling or Argus classes.

Through working with the Director of Career Services, Karen Kelsey (’87), I was able to secure a month long externship with Hines UK in London.  Alex Knapp, a 2008 MSRED alum, is a Director within the Hines London office.  The office houses the Hines United Kingdom headquarters, as well as the Hines European headquarters.

Alex Knapp '08 and Matt Wallace'14

Alex Knapp ’08 and Matt Wallace’14

My month long externship was an incredible experience.  From hopping on and off the Tube in the morning to dodging traffic on the other side of the road on Oxford Street, I was able to experience firsthand what daily working life is like in London.

My work experience varied dramatically each day.  I was able to join the Director of Asset Management, Raj Rajput, on a train trip to Birmingham to visit their assets. I got the opportunity to underwrite potential office acquisitions in Excel which involved understanding the real estate acquisition tax implications in the UK.  In addition, I assisted in the preparation of investment committee packages and I was able to join the team on a tour of a potential building acquisition with their equity partners.  The experience was unparalleled.

I was afforded the opportunity to interact and network with everyone in the office, from the Senior Managing Director to newly hired associates to the visiting Head of Hines Global REIT based in Houston. Everyone at the Hines UK office made me feel very welcome.

Needless to say, my externship experience with Hines UK London office was an opportunity that would be hard to come by without the support of the program.  Karen Kelsey works in conjunction with MIT alums and other real estate industry leaders to find and create these invaluable opportunities that provide firsthand experience with well-known companies in cities where making the right connection in real estate is typically hard to come by.

Hines _web

Hines Office in London, England