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Summer interns sample world of real estate

Updated: August 7, 2013 - 7:36 pm

Posted: August 2, 2013

by jared Council

From how Virginia's ports operate to what historic tax credits entail, the students in the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate internship program have been asking questions all summer.

Candi James, an HBA marketing director who co-chairs the internship program, said she recalls listening to the students during their visit to the Virginia Port Authority.

"I just remember thinking, these are questions seasoned locals would be asking," James said about the class of 2013 interns, the seventh class to go through the program. "You know, they get it."

The interns varied in age, classification and major, but a common theme among them is that they've said their curiosity has led to a new appreciation for commercial real estate.


The following are some of the questions they've answered.

Matt Szycher, 24, Virginia BeachOld Dominion University senior, Maritime & Supply Chain Management major with internship at Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer

How'd you get interested in commercial real estate?

"My mentor with Thalhimer, Bill Throne, approached the maritime and supply chain majors because he was looking for those interested in the industrial sector for real estate. They picked us because we know the port area and that's what he's selling new companies on - the port area and the growth opportunities and stuff like that. Before I talked to him, I wasn't really thinking about commercial real estate. But after talking with him, interviewing and getting the internship, I see how the industries are so affected by the port, and vice versa."

Evelyn M. Oborny, 21, Virginia Beach

George Mason University senior, International Studies major, internship with

Chesapeake Economic Development Department

What's the most surprising or impressive thing that you've learned this summer?

"All the things that a business has to consider in order to get started - or even considered. There are just so many different things they have to be aware of before they put it in motion."

John M. Farley, 22, Virginia Beach

James Madison University senior, Finance major, internship with

CBRE | Hampton Roads

What's the most surprising or impressive thing you've learned this summer?

"I'm sure this is a popular answer that the other interns gave, but the visit to the Virginia Port Authority where we got to go to the top of the tower at VIT. [A representative] gave a really great speech on the port and our effect on the west and our effect on the world overall, economically speaking. I had always known growing up in Virginia Beach that we had a big harbor in Norfolk and Portsmouth and all of that was pretty influential, but I never realized the vast extent of that. I really gained some pride in the area for how much business we bring and how much business we export."

C. Evrim Fowler, 22, Fairfax Station

Old Dominion University senior, Finance and Economics double major, internship with

Valbridge Property Advisors|Axial Advisory Group

How would you like technology to improve the industry?

"I guess improvements in software for certain things, like appraisals, to make it easier for people to fill out information needed that everyone else can share. So if I were to look at a property, I don't have to do all the research from the bottom up if someone else has done it. They can just upload it to a database and all you have to do is type in an address."

Bobby Gorby, 21, Virginia Beach

Flagler College (St. Augustine, Fla.) senior, Business major, internship at

Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc.

Based on your experience, what "dos and don'ts" would you share with anyone interested in the industry?

"The 'do' I would say is to set goals. The 'don't' would be don't burn any bridges. You never know when it's going to come back around to haunt you."

Erin R. O'Grady, 20, Suffolk

George Mason University junior, Environmental and Sustainability Studies major, internship with

VHB, Williamsburg office

You're from here. Has the internship changed your perspective of Hampton Roads?

"I'm definitely impressed with Hampton Roads. I've learned so much about all of our ports and how they bring so much work and industry to our hustle-and-bustle area and it's great. I have so much newfound respect for Hampton Roads and how big we are in so many aspects, not just the naval base."

Alec Yuzhbabenko, 22, Virginia Beach

Virginia Tech senior, Architecture major, internship with

HBA Architecture & Interior Design

You're from here. Has the internship changed your perspective of Hampton Roads?

"The strengths are definitely the coast - being close to the ocean - and that the area is growing. Some of the weaknesses I believe have to do with - except for Norfolk maybe - a lot cities, they aren't very walkable. You've got to commute by car or by public transportation. There's not many places where you can walk down from your apartment and walk to a bar or restaurant."

Meredith A. Watts, 20, Virginia Beach

University of Georgia junior, Marketing major, internship with

Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc.

After this internship, do you think you'll likely go into commercial real estate?

"I'm not sure; I still want to see what else is out there. I mean, I didn't really know anything about commercial real estate going into it, so it hasn't steered me away from it. That's for sure. I think it's really interesting and there are a lot of different departments that go into commercial real estate and I was able to see how everything has to come together, like all the details that go into building a shopping center, for example."

Joey P. Theil, 23, McLean

Old Dominion University senior, Finance major with emphasis in real estate, internship with

Stewart Title & Settlement

Can you see yourself working in the Hampton Roads area?

"Yeah, much more so after [HRACRE President] Skip Sacks' ODU class and this internship. I'm from the D.C. area, where the real estate is already expensive and everybody's already brokering and developing there. It's oversaturated, in my opinion. [Hampton Roads] is a market where an upstart has a really good shot at developing - or doing whatever. This area's being so close to the water, that just has so much value, and I think that the only real thing holding back this area in terms of the future would be the transportation needs. But I think that as we progress and play a more vital role as a port and harbor city, those needs are going to be addressed out of necessity."

Kinde'l G. Allen, 21, Chesapeake

Old Dominion University junior, Civil Engineering major, internship with

VHB, Virginia Beach Office

Can you see yourself working in the Hampton Roads area?

"That depends on the tolls. I love it here. It's my hometown. My family, my friends live here. But, like I said, it depends on the tolls."

J. Ben Rountree, 19, Virginia Beach

University of Virginia sophomore, pre-Commerce major, internship with

Monarch Bank

What do you see yourself doing in the industry?

"I've done a lot with banking, but at the same time, I'm really interested in development. I mean, the cool thing about commercial development is that I could technically be a banker and still be developing properties, almost on the side, with the right partners. But I want to learn more about every side of the industry before I decide that. Banking is interesting and I don't know if I foresee myself doing that forever. But my dad [William "Tree" Rountree, Jr.] was the founder of Monarch Bank, so it's kind of in the blood. It's tough. Everyone always asks me if I want to be a banker, but I'm really interested in all this other stuff. So next I may try to get another internship with a developer or a similar company besides a bank. I want to see all the different sides."

S. Price Wheeler, 22, Virginia BeachFlagler College 2013 alumnus, Sports Management major, Interned and now working with Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc.

Who in the industry would you like to emulate?

"My father, [Wheeler REIT founder Jon Wheeler]. I think he's the best of the best and he does it for all the right reasons. He's passionate about it. He goes into work every single day and puts a smile on everybody's faces and treats everyone the same, which is holding them to the highest standards. And he's always nice to everybody, the CFO and the receptionist and the interns - he treats everybody equally."

* Editor's note: Joseph A. Lowery, who interned with Divaris Real Estate, Inc., declined to comment for this article. Zachary A. Holt, who interned with Suburban Asset Management, and Gray C. Layden, who interned with CBRE|Hampton Roads, could not be reached for this article. nib