Stacey Patten is a current Haas senior who transferred from the College of Marin last fall. You may know her as the current President of HBSA and former External Cohort Liaison for the Class of 2015. She is also a member of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club (UREC). While she was at College of Marin, she served as President of Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society and contributed over 500 hours of community service. Her past job experiences include working at Citibank and Wells Fargo as a bank teller, for an insurance firm, and most recently for Prudential Real Estate Investors as an investment analyst. She will be returning to Prudential full-time next July as an investment analyst in the San Francisco office.
Why real estate? What was it about real estate that was interesting to you?
When I was a kid, I watched my dad, a general contractor, tear down and rebuild houses. I loved being able to watch the renovation process from start to finish. As I got older I became interested in architecture and interior design, which was probably in part because of my early exposure to construction, and realized I could follow my interests by working in the real estate industry. Through my various jobs I’ve been able to see many ways in which real estate affects the world. I’ve learned a bit about how to finance it, how to insure it, and how to increase its value by renovating or redeveloping it. I love that real estate is tangible – you can actually go visit it, and in some way, shape, or form it touches all of our lives.
How did you avoid the pressures that were ABC-related?
Well, at first I didn’t. Coming into Haas I knew I wanted to pursue something within the real estate industry, but became uncertain over time, because it seemed everyone around me was doing something accounting, banking, or consulting (ABC) related. I felt like the odd-one out when I told my peers I wanted to do real estate. In fact, a few weeks into the semester I felt peer pressure to look into consulting, so I spent several weeks going to consulting related info-sessions and looking into joining consulting clubs on campus. Ultimately, I realized that I wasn’t particularly interested in consulting. What I came to realize was that I needed to find a career that would make me happy, listen to myself, and follow my own interests. I wish someone had reassured me that it was okay to pursue a non-ABC career path when I first start at Haas. If you are feeling pressure to choose one of the ABCs, but aren’t necessarily interested in any of them, take some time and explore other options. There are so many more types of industries and jobs available out their besides the ABCS. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo and pave your own path.
How did you land your offer at Prudential? What was the process like?
Well, I actually found out about Prudential through one of the UREC meetings. Prudential‘s Mortgage Capital Company, the private debt side of their real estate practice, came out and talked about the work they do and their internship program. After the presentation, I stayed and chatted with one of the associates and asked for her business card. I sent her a follow up email thanking her for her time and asked if I could pick her brain about her experience at Prudential sometime. We ended up grabbing lunch in the city and I had a great conversation with her. She explained how the on-boarding process worked and I kept in touch with her throughout the recruiting process. The process consisted of first round interviews, which were held on campus, and then a half-day super day in the San Francisco office, which involved a real estate case and talking with many of the Analysts, Associates, and VPs. A short while after the super day I was extended an offer. Ultimately, I accepted the offer, as I felt I fit in well with the people that worked there, was really interested in the work itself, and was excited by the opportunity to travel a bit for work.
Speaking about travel, why don’t you tell us more about your experience at Prudential and what you did there? Also what came into play when you accepted your offer at Prudential?
Sure! I spent the first half of my internship with the transactions team, performing various analytical and due diligence tasks associated with underwriting and valuating properties the firm was looking at acquiring. I helped put together documentation for deals we were looking at bidding on, and frequently sat in on meetings with developers, brokers, portfolio managers, and other executives to soak in more knowledge about real estate. During the second half, I worked with the asset management team; specifically on value add fund. I worked on lots of projects including analyzing whether rental rates for an apartment complex we owned in Seattle were too low and analyzing whether we should renovate or tear down and rebuild a mixed use space in Kirkland, Washington. I was lucky enough to travel a few times during the internship, first to Madison, New Jersey for training, then to Chicago for an asset management meeting, and to a few towns in the bay area to tour some of the assets we owned or were interested in purchasing.
After the internship ended, Prudential extended me an offer to return. What played a big part in my accepting the full-time offer was that I thoroughly enjoyed the work I’d done over summer and really connected with the people. Additionally, I loved the fact that Prudential had a great reputation within the private equity real estate space, and had a great analyst program where I would receive extensive training and career development. I’m very much looking forward to starting full-time in July.
Finally, do you have any advice for anyone pursuing real estate?
Yes, take UGBA 180 as early as you can in your academic career. It will give you a good foundation for how real estate is valuated and will prepare you for technical real estate questions that you may be asked during interviews. I also suggest you reach out to Analysts or Associates that work at firms you are interested in – the earlier the better. Networking is an extremely important part of working in the real estate industry, because it’s a very social industry, and ultimately receiving an offer comes down to how well you can connect with individuals at that firm, and do you have the technical skills to be able to be successful there. Also, and be sure to leverage the Career Center. I found reaching out the David Woodward to be extremely helpful.