For eight weeks this summer, I worked alongside Kelley Coughlan, an Associate Developer at TRITEC Real Estate Company. I entered this internship role with a background in mechanical engineering and geology, and next to no experience in business or finance. Through my work with Kelley and the rest of the TRITEC team, I have been able to see how critical financial analysis is in every aspect of project development. I was offered a unique perspective on the real estate development industry as I had been fortunate enough to interact with many different groups within the company. I participated in interior design meetings, new project proposal meetings, engineering meetings, client meetings, architectural meetings, and just about any other meeting you could imagine. I have been able to experience firsthand how the company operates from all different aspects and at all different levels of a project.
At TRITEC, everyone was willing to help me better understand the real estate industry within his or her own specialty. Marty DePasquale, Vice President of Preconstruction Services, was always enthusiastic about including me in engineering and architectural discussions. He spent a day going through a particular project’s early stage drawings with me. During my undergraduate schooling, I had looked at and even made my own engineering drawings, but never on the magnitude of any sizeable real estate development. When he first placed the stack of drawings on the table, it was quite overwhelming. I had never dealt with this many drawings, let alone drawings of such intricate detail. The drawings for this project consisted of hundreds of pages that specified everything from siding to piping. I had never seen anything like this. Marty’s patience and years of experience reading drawings made the process much more manageable. Going through the drawings with Marty, discussing the challenges they had faced and the unique ways they had solved these problems was extremely helpful. Marty broke the project down to the basics and explained the intricacies to the point where I was able to go through the remainder of the drawings on my own and attain a real sense of the building layout.
One great part about working with TRITEC is the firm’s commitment to the communities in which they work. Kelley had me review past economic impact studies, and create my own study for a new project area. TRITEC focuses a lot of its energy on downtown revitalization in areas that have both the need and the desire for redevelopment. Past projects have proven to positively affect the surrounding areas in significant ways, through the inclusion or implementation of elements such as workforce housing, improving streetscapes, encouraging economic growth, and attracting more retail tenants to the area. It was great to see TRITEC’s commitment to the community, and very eye-opening to see the impact that one development can have on the greater area at large.
Things at TRITEC take place on a large scale — from the financing to the physical size of the buildings, from the stacks of drawings on Marty’s desk to the overall size of the development team and its consultants. I have worked on teams before; I have had to coordinate engineering drawings; I have even built things before. Yet, nothing I have done can compare to the scale on which TRITEC operates. You’d think coordination would be a logistical nightmare, but TRITEC finds a way to make it all move smoothly.
In an academic setting, you don’t realize how drastically even a small design change could influence the overall project on a much larger scale. In the real world, shortening the length of a multifamily housing project, even by inches, could mean the loss of rentable units, which in turn would imply a loss of income and could potentially deem the entire project impractical from a financial standpoint. This summer helped me to better comprehend how important business and finance knowledge is in every position throughout every industry. Such realizations will certainly help me as I leave school and prepare to enter the real world. In short, my internship offered me an invaluable experience and I am sincerely thankful for the opportunity to have worked with TRITEC this past summer.