Internship in acquisitions at a local developer vs. more well-known REIT

Hi everyone,

I am an underclassman at a top 25 school on the west coast, and I need some advice on what type of summer internship I should take if I want to end up in REPE/REIT acquisitions eventually. I have two offers: I can intern at a small (less than 20 people) local developer with a portfolio of about 50mm, in an acquisitions analyst role where I think I can get significant experience underwriting, interacting with sellers, sourcing buy opportunitities, etc. or I can intern at a REIT in a more general role (not sure what I would be doing) with a recognizeable name but with much less exposure (probably because they have multiple people working on acquisitions). What do people think is the best course of action here? Does firm brand name and size matter in terms of selling my experience to recruiters or does the experience that I get matter more? Thanks

Comments (29)

Mar 19, 2017

Considering the schools can only be USC, Stanford, UCLA, or Berkeley you should have a pretty sizable alumni group to reach out to. Ultimately it comes down to if you want to work in development or acquisitions down the line. It sounds like the development gig has a bit of a brokerage role. If you really don't know I'm sure down the line the REIT will have a bigger name (unless Dev is a local big player but purposely lean) but some older guys can speak on that.

Best Response
Mar 20, 2017

Take the bigger name. A 19/20-year-old kid is unlikely to get substantive work in either role, so take the bigger name.

Mar 20, 2017

With internships, ALWAYS take the bigger brand name to put on your resume. When it comes to applying for FT roles, a guy with a summer internship from Vornado is going to cross the eyes of more recruiters/hiring managers, than a guy who interned at Jim's Investments LLC.

I can say this from experience. I have an internship under my belt from a firm no one has ever heard of it and I wish I worked harder to get a brand name during college.

    • 1
    • 1
Apr 18, 2018

.

Mar 20, 2017

Take the one that will give better experience. The brand may help you get in the door for an interview, but the experiences you are able to talk about are what will get your next job.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Mar 20, 2017
maineiac42:

Take the one that will give better experience. The brand may help you get in the door for an interview, but the experiences you are able to talk about are what will get your next job.

Do you see the logical inconsistency in your statement?

Mar 20, 2017

I can see what you might argue is a "logical inconsistency", but you are being pedantic.

I would think it goes without saying can't get a job without getting the interview in the first place. A strong brand will likely open more doors, but having better experiences to speak about will decrease the number of doors that subsequently get slammed in your face.

I would agree with you though that if the experiences are similar you should take the better brand.

Mar 20, 2017

Except you need the brand name to get your resume even looked at for full time recruiting.

    • 1
Mar 20, 2017

It depends on OP's goals. If he wants to work at a REIT or another large institution, then yes probably. If he aspires to work at a development shop then he should take the other route.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Mar 20, 2017

Just to reiterate this point, it's highly unlikely that an underclassmen will walk away with strong actual experiences in a summer internship. I work at a family shop (no name, lots of assets and lots of work for real employees) and our interns do administrative work. One summer we even had them help re-paint the parking lot lines at a property.

AvalonBay doing bitch work > No Name Developer, LLC doing bitch work. No Name Developer, LLC is unlikely going to spend the summer training you how to model (although it's possible that some nice guy WILL spend his valuable time training you, it's not likely and I wouldn't count on it).

Mar 20, 2017

+SB for making your interns paint the parking lot

    • 3
Apr 18, 2018

.

Mar 20, 2017
JimboUSC:

I agree there are some shops where you have to paint parking lots and fix bathroom issues ( i actually did this sadly lol),

LOL, this makes me so happy. :)

JimboUSC:

but there are others who teach you how to model in excel and Argus which is way more valuable than just doing accounting or ops at a REIT or whatever.

Yeah, my main point is that it's hard to know which small shops will provide valuable experience since most won't be covered on, say, glassdoor.com.

Mar 20, 2017

How did you spin that on your resume?
"Assisted in the execution of capex and renovation projects for an office building"

    • 3
Mar 20, 2017

It looks like this is an internship in between Sophomore and Junior Year. I would 100% take the brand name. You're probably a smart kid, but also 19-20 and probably not "mature" (don't take this the wrong way) and therefore will be given pretty low level tasks. Doing a good job in that role could turn into an acquisitions internship and then possibly to a full time offer.

EDIT: After looking at your other thread it looks like you're a freshman. I'd still go with the brand name, the big risk, at least in my opinion, about hiring someone your age is basically your maturity. Meaning, your ability to finish what you start, thinking about a possible solution before asking a question, doing your work correctly and in a timely manner and your ability to focus on one task for hours/days/weeks on end. Not saying you can't do these things, but these are skills that develop with age. If I saw your resume in a year or two from now, I would personally be impressed that a well known company would take that risk on you, it would definitely say a lot.

That being said, you are young enough to where the experiences at the development shop could be huge and you do have time to find a big brand name sometime over the next couple years.

Mar 20, 2017

Can pretty much reiterate what was said above. Probably not a great likelihood of getting great high-level experience at either (marginally higher in small shop). But it can't hurt to put a brand name or two on your resume early in your career. Make sure you take advantage of any training opportunities at the REIT (get them to pay for an ARGUS course, etc) while you're there.

Mar 20, 2017

Okay so most of the comments are saying that I should take the bigger name, and I think I will, but I just wanted to add some more detailed and current info. I am indeed a Freshman, and I managed to get these two offers by networking heavily with alums. At the small shop I would be working directly with the head of acquisitions, and he has really taken a liking to me- I am pretty decent at RE modeling already because I worked through the whole BIWS course, and he has made it very clear I won't be doing administrative work. Both firms are very close to my college, and the acquisitions guy at the boutique called me asking if I could come in today, to show me what kind of work I would be doing if I accepted the offer. He had me set up with Costar and whatnot and we looked for a property in their preferred asset class meeting certain criteria, and he showed me how he closed other deals and what projects they are working on. I only want to mention this because many of the comments are insisting that I would be doing bitch work, which really doesn't seem to be the case here- he was adamant that if I found a property that was promising that I could pitch it to the principals and be involved in the deal process, and the culture of the shop makes me want to believe him. Of course he could be bullshitting me but he is an alum with has quite good credentials, and is well-connected to a number of profs at my school. They don't usually take undergraduate interns at all- they have two at the moment and both are grad students at top 15-20 schools. I am not really sure what sort of work I would be doing at the REIT but it probably would involve some admin work, and the REIT is probably recognizeable for RE people in the region but I would not say it is nationally renowned or on the same level as Vornado. Thanks

Mar 20, 2017

If you like the developer than go with that. A good mentor is an asset.

Mar 20, 2017

It sounds like you already know what you're wanting to do and you got negative confirmation here. Here's the deal--if you think in 8-10 weeks you're going to be "working the deal" then I think you've got misplaced optimism. It could take you a month just to find a good deal to pitch your boss--with no experience it's likely that your deal gets torn apart in the matter of minutes. Even "easy" deals take months of grinding work--there is almost no chance you're going to work the deal life-cycle in 2 months, even to an acquisition, let alone to development. In 8-10 weeks of an internship, there is very little you will be able to do on a deal, especially a deal that doesn't exist yet (your own theoretical deal).

Also, if your REIT is publicly traded then it's probably nationally known in real estate circles.

But you're a teenager--you know it all already.

Mar 20, 2017

Thanks for the advice. I didn't mean to make it sound like I had already made up my mind and needed to defend my decision to myself, I genuinely haven't decided. I do think you have a point about the deal cycle being too long for me to get a lot of good experience on. I'm going to be taking a tour around the REIT tomorrow, and I am sure that will it influence my decision (and yes it is publicly traded). Thanks!

Mar 20, 2017

Not to completely flip-flop on what I said an hour ago, but getting exposure to high-level decision makers (even if it doesn't mean you are closing a deal, because you likely won't) can give you some valuable perspective on how the business works. I still think that starting your career at a big firm is the right move in most cases, but when I was at a REIT our intern spent most of the time exposed to our analysts who had them help pull together ppts and market studies - not useless experience by any means, but I doubt they walked away with the same perspective that could be gained by exposure to experienced managers who are out there executing the business strategy.

In addition to having a good name on your resume, working for a big firm, you generally learn how to do things the "right" way, which is a big reason I think it's valuable early in your career. The guys at the small shop could be super sharp and be able to teach you some valuable things, but I would do some DD on their backgrounds and make sure they are legit.

    • 2
Mar 20, 2017

This is a great point as well.

At the large REIT, let's not forget that the guys you will be reporting to will probably know pretty much every guy in your market which will can help you when looking for FT. Small firm can as well but I would do your DD on their backgrounds as stated above.

Also, let's not forget that with the small firm you will be doing "Acquisitions". Small developers really only do 1 or 2 projects a year if even. I would say most of your time would probably be market analysis and administrative AM type work.

    • 1
Mar 20, 2017

It sounds like you would already have a mentor there. Somebody like that who can vouch for you is better than a brand name on your resume.

Mar 21, 2017
Comment
Mar 21, 2017
Comment