IAP Externships: The Value Proposition for Student and Sponsor

by Amy Marcott on February 12, 2012 · 1 comment

in Alumni Life, Design, Energy, IAP, Student Life

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

MIT externs Steve Bonelli (center) and Mike DiMinico (right) with Partner Steve Murphy and his son, Dylan Murphy (left).

MIT externs Steve Bonelli (center) and Mike DiMinico (right) with Partner Steve Murphy and his son, Dylan Murphy (left).

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.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dan DeMarco February 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

As a follow to Steve’s comments, I was incredibly impressed by both Steve and Mike in what they produced for Campanelli in 3 short weeks. Like most MIT grad students we have had in the past, both Mike and Steve had years of work experience which showed in their ability to quickly grasp the research projects and the result provided conclusions Campanelli will use to guide future decisions. Both guys had an opportunity to sit in on development and leasing meetings so hopefully they enjoyed being part of what we do every day. Someone is going to do very well by hiring either Steve or Mike upon their graduation, that is for sure!
Dan DeMarco


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