This is part of a series of posts from MIT students and alumni who were involved in the 2012 Student/Alumni Externship Program, which connected current students to alumni in workplaces worldwide during MIT’s Independent Activities Period. Alumni, learn how to get involved.
Guest blogger: Stephen J. T. Murphy SM ’87, Principal of Acquisitions, Campanelli Companies (commercial real estate development and construction firm)
Externs: Steve Bonelli and Mike DiMinico, grad students in the Center for Real Estate
For several years, Campanelli has participated in the MIT Externship program. Campanelli is the second largest commercial development firm in Massachusetts and this year, we have two exceptional students from the Center for Real Estate spending their time with us: Steve Bonelli and Mike DiMinico.
When we first decided to participate, we knew the potential for real value for both our firm and the students would depend on how focused we could make the students’ experience. After all, IAP is only about three weeks long, and real estate projects can take years to complete. So how could the students really get a chance to engage?
We realized, however, that there are always many issues that could benefit from a deeper exploration but get left on the sidelines for lack of time or resources. Yet these same topics, if properly assessed, could help clarify or alter some larger decisions on a project. We decided to take advantage of the research skills and intellectual curiosity of our externs to investigate these topics.
Each year, we design a discreet topic of investigation that can be researched and evaluated within the three-week timeframe. About a week is devoted to data collection, a week to analysis, and a week to developing conclusions. Steve and Mike then presented their findings to the firm. In past years, we have covered topics ranging from age-restricted housing to inter-municipal service agreements for projects that straddle community boundaries. In each case, the topic is directly relevant to a project we are considering or have underway, and the findings have always contributed to our decisions affecting the project.
This approach also gives the externs the opportunity to learn about a topic that is both new to them and relevant in their field of study. The topics have even served eventually as the bases for student theses. This year, Steve and Mike collaborated on two somewhat interrelated topics: state and local incentives available to attract industrial enterprises, including those involved in renewable energy, to a particular site in Massachusetts and the incentives available to promote private development of renewable energy installations, such as solar and wind power. Campanelli is committed to exploring sustainable alternatives in their buildings and will utilize this information to pursue installing solar on some of our currently owned properties.
As a sponsor, we see a great value proposition for Campanelli in participating in the externship program. We get to explore new areas of interest, we get to work with talented young people who bring new ideas and a fresh perspective, and we support the mission of MIT.