Adam Elbaz
Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate student Adam Elbaz.

How persistence and grit helped this real estate student land an internship during the COVID-19 pandemic

“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

Just a few months ago, in February, I had the fortune of choosing between two great internship offers – one from an industry leader in real estate market data, and the other from one of the largest real estate services company in the world.

The initial recruitment cycle was a whirlwind to say the least, but I was lucky enough to have Business Career Services Associate Director and Career Coach Kandace Keeling in my corner. I am not sure how I would’ve navigated the process without her. She coached me on everything from writing emails and texts to answering interview questions on the fly.

Kandace’s guidance was essential to helping me land interviews with two great companies as well as the reason I was able to choose the best one for me to pursue this summer.

Despite Kandace’s help and my efforts, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans in store for me. Once COVID-19 hit my internship location of New York City in mid-March, I had a feeling something would happen with my position, and I was not giving into everyone’s optimism. By early April, I found out the internship program was cancelled company-wide.

While I was disappointed, I didn’t lose my drive to find a great internship experience. After my position was terminated, I started revisiting my LinkedIn and resume again and began applying to positions left and right. I noticed tons of remote opportunities, so I was very optimistic.

In the beginning of June, I came across an article in The Real Deal, a real estate news outlet. The story was about Arden Karson, a Miami-based real estate executive, who was starting her own firm to consult and partner with investors and developers “in the face of the challenges and opportunities related to COVID-19.”

When seeing someone with her track record open up shop during a pandemic, I was immediately drawn to learn more about Arden and her new firm. After reading about Karson & Co. and its objective, I realized the firm was something I want to be a part of. I reached out to Arden with an email titled “UF MSRE Looking to Lend a Hand,” where I offered my congratulations on her new venture and my time to help out with any tasks under the assumption that opening a new firm during COVID was nothing short of a whirlwind.

Thankfully, she said yes, and I am now an intern under an amazing mentor. Currently, I am compiling a database of capital sources and researching market segments for investment in the post-COVID world.

I have learned so much from this pandemic already, not only from my internship with Karson & Co., but from the whole experience of losing and gaining a position. First and foremost, I learned about the importance of relationships in the world of real estate. Arden’s relationships have allowed her to embrace this new world order on her own, and it is incredibly inspiring.

Secondly, I am fortunate enough to get in at the ground floor and witness the creation of a new firm by someone so deeply involved in the industry nationwide. Witnessing the early stages has been a priceless experience for me. In the future, I aspire to become an entrepreneur in the market as well and to see all that goes into such an endeavor has been extremely rewarding.

I’ve also found a fantastic mentor in Arden. With her years of experience, she has humanized many concepts for me, from explaining the capital stack and the development process to allowing me to sit in on all her Zoom calls. She has introduced me to many industry leaders including a role model of mine – Avra Jain, an incredibly talented and resourceful developer in Miami. I have been able to sit in on a crash course to success in the industry and coupled with my Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) degree, I am eager to put everything I am soaking up now into practice upon graduation.

Overall, I’ve learned to never take anything for granted. Just a few short months ago, I was over the moon excited to work for a great company in one of my favorite cities in the world, only to come crashing back down to Earth. More than anything, this experience has humbled me and reminded me that there is no substitute for grit and hard work. This experience, coupled with my academics, is invaluable as I look for full-time employment in Miami.