Your Gift in Action
Price undergraduate interns turn lessons into real-world action
By Cristy Lytal
This summer, students from the Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Development (BRED) program at the USC Price School of Public Policy built strong foundations as interns at the some of the industry’s most esteemed companies.
From development and asset management to operations and financial analysis, Price students applied classroom lessons to the workplace, then brought workplace lessons back to the classroom.
“We built the BRED curriculum with a series of internships in mind — the real estate curriculum and the professional exposure of the students build on each other,” said Christian Redfearn, the Borstein Family Endowed Professor of Real Estate and faculty lead for the BRED program. “The classes are all rigorous, but grounded in professional practice. As students complete internships, they will see what they’ve learned and then return to the class that much more seasoned and ready for more.”
Real deals at CBRE
Troy Paolucci interned with the Financial Consulting Group at CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm. He was one of only 30 interns selected from a competitive pool of more than 400 applicants to CBRE’s Greater Los Angeles/Orange County Region Summer Intern program.
At CBRE, Paolucci’s responsibilities were the same as a newly hired analyst and his finance courses at USC Price prepared him with the skills to underwrite loans and building pro formas.
“Say a broker is selling a $20 million office building — they bring us on board to help with the deal,” Paolucci explained. “What we do is underwrite the entire property, structure the deal for them on the financial side and do all the numbers to help the broker. The good part is you get to experience every different property type and a bunch of different deals. You touch a little bit of everything.”
During the summer, Paolucci worked on retail properties, office complexes and industrial buildings, with the size of the deals ranging from $5 million to $70 million.
“The biggest skill I learned was really understanding the time value of money and how these cash flows and buildings are valued,” he said. “Learning the software program ARGUS and getting all the lingo down and really understanding how that part of the business works was a great learning experience.”
Paolucci contributed as a “full-force member of the team,” according to his supervisor Sara Brock Rollins, Managing Director of the Financial Consulting Group.
“Troy wasn’t afraid of tackling the unknown and starting with a blank piece of paper or Excel spreadsheet,” she said. “He took the lead on deals, delivered his assignments on time and learned new things every day.”
Double duty at Caruso
BRED student Reuben Peters completed his second consecutive summer as an intern at Caruso, a real estate development firm of retail, residential and hospitality properties. The firm’s founder and CEO is USC Trustee is Rick Caruso ’80, who also serves on the Price School’s Board of Councilors.
“Commercial real estate is something I want to get into after I’m done with my undergraduate degree and football, so having the opportunity to intern there was beyond what I was expecting,” said Peters, who plays fullback for the USC Trojans football team. “The thing that excites me is just giving guests the opportunity to be happy on a property. It’s something that they can enjoy, something that I can give back to the community.”
At Caruso, he focused on operations and property management. He also worked with Vice President of Development Michael Gazzano, an alumnus who earned both his bachelor’s degree in urban planning and development and his Dollinger Master of Real Estate Development from USC Price.
“Reuben was not only an invaluable member of our team at The Grove, but also worked hard every day, was creative and added great energy to the property,” said his supervisor Ryan Hawley, Caruso’s general manager of the West Los Angeles Region. “Reuben focused on concepts that are sure to enhance the guest experience at The Grove, especially at our new restaurant, 189 by Dominique Ansel. I’m confident that Reuben’s creative ideas will lead to a very successful grand opening.”
As an intern, Peters was also able to apply the skills that he learned in his RED 375 “Real Estate Development Analysis” course, including how to build pro formas.
One of his favorite experiences was working on a team with several other interns to brainstorm about how to make Caruso more sustainable.
“Our group had the opportunity to present in front of the whole company and give our take on it,” Peters said. “That experience was invaluable because you get to present in front of some very important VPs and people who have been in the business for years.”
Peters believes that internships provide important exposure to the workplace.
“I’d never been in a formal work setting like that before my internship the first year,” he said. “So that opened my eyes to what it’s like to be in the real world, and it really challenged me to think critically. You always have to be on your toes, because there are a lot of smart people out there and you always have to think about the next best thing or the best solution to solving problems.”
Major assets at Macerich
BRED student Melissa Schem, who is also pursuing a minor in business law, interned at Macerich, a real estate investment trust and leading owner and operator of high-end shopping centers.
She first became acquainted with the company as the recipient of a Macerich Scholarship, which gave her the opportunity to meet the company’s chief executive officer, chief financial officer and head of development. She reconnected with the CEO during a Price speaker series event and he offered her a summer internship.
“I’ve been really interested in mixed use retail/residential development,” she said. “And that’s a big part of what the company does.”
During the summer, she worked in asset management, where she had the opportunity to help with budgeting and building pro formas, using skills gained in her RED 375 “Real Estate Development Analysis” course.
She also sat in on numerous insightful meetings, including some that focused on the future of certain retail spaces.
Those conversations “were really interesting to hear, and it inspired me to do my senior thesis on [retail] boxes and plans for adaptive reuse for those boxes,” Schem said.
Schem’s engagement and contributions impressed her supervisor Rebecca Strom, Vice President of Asset Management at Macerich.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Melissa will do great things with whatever company she ultimately works for,” Strom said. “She is exactly the type of person we look for in our department — strong financial and social skills. She was a meaningful addition to the team.”
Infill insights at The Olson Company
Chad Lonski, a BRED student also pursuing a minor in architecture, completed a summer internship at The Olson Company, a real estate developer and pioneer in urban infill — which involves using land within a built-up area for further development in order to minimize sprawl.
“The Olson Company is really well-known in infill home building,” Lonski said. “They’re the original firm, in this area, that came up with that idea and they’ve always been the market leaders in that respect.”
Lonski’s interest in infill inspired him to initiate an informational interview with Aaron Hirschi, Vice President of Land Acquisition at The Olson Company and alumnus of the Dollinger MRED at USC Price.
“Chad seemed like a talented guy,” Hirschi said. “And so we just created the position for him because he seemed like the right person to come in and help us out. I was impressed before we even brought him in and even more so when he was here by the grasp that he already had on the industry.”
During his internship, Lonski used Google Earth to create an interactive map depicting the history of The Olson Company’s many projects.
“When we’re giving a presentation to someone, we can pull out an iPad now, pull up what he’s created, click on any of the projects and show images,” Hirschi said. “He’s created a really cool tool for us that was something we wanted to build for a long time.”
Lonski also helped with entitlements, city planning approvals, the underwriting process, and community meetings.
“One memorable experience was going to a Garden Grove community meeting and just hearing the sentiment of the neighbors, hearing their disagreements and support, and understanding their point of view on development that’s coming into their neighborhood,” Lonski said.
For Lonski, one of the most valuable aspects of the internship was experiencing how a homebuilding organization works in practice and comparing that to how it’s supposed to work in theory.
“RED 417 ‘History of Planning and Development’ taught me the background theories behind some of the urban planning trends that we’ve experienced,” he said. “So seeing some of those theories come to life through our everyday work was interesting, and comparing what we do to what academics think is ideal.”
Return on investment at Colony Northstar
BRED student Christiana Ritchie, who is also pursuing a minor in psychology, spent the summer interning at Colony NorthStar, Inc., a real estate private equity firm.
“I decided to pursue this internship because Colony NorthStar is a prominent leader in the industry and I knew I would grow and learn so much,” Ritchie said. “From both debt and equity deals, to their healthcare, industrial and hospitality platforms, there was so much to learn.”
One of the highlights of the internship was a tour of One Cal Plaza, a downtown Los Angeles property recently acquired by Colony NorthStar and Rising Realty.
“With the new Related California project, Grand Avenue, adjacent to One Cal, it was great to witness the shift in energy towards Bunker Hill right before it peaks,” Ritchie said.
As an intern, she dedicated the majority of her energies to underwriting past investment opportunities, factoring in their historical cash flows and predicting their future returns. She then used this analysis to determine the price that Colony NorthStar would bid on the properties, utilizing skills she had learned in her RED 375 “Real Estate Development Analysis” course.
“Christiana was very professional and eager to learn,” said Shai Shwartz, an Asset Manager at Colony NorthStar. “She brought a positive attitude and an inquisitive mind to every task in which she was involved.”
As a culmination of the summer experience, Ritchie and a team of interns presented and pitched an equity deal with financing at a mock investment committee meeting comprised of mid- and senior-level executives.
“Working at Colony NorthStar has definitely built a brighter future for me,” Ritchie said. “From what I have learned over the course of my internship, I feel that I am a stronger candidate for future jobs. I also met with many incredible people at the company. Everyone was so gracious to meet or get coffee with me, and I really made some strong friendships. I know we will be doing deals together in the long term.”
USC Price undergraduate education extends from local to global
By Matthew Kredell
For all parents, sending their sons and daughters to the USC Price School of Public Policy is a significant investment in the future. As part of Trojan Family Weekend, USC Price Professor LaVonna Lewis and Assistant Professor William Resh explained to new Trojan parents how the school’s unique undergraduate labs and summer enrichment programs offer learning experiences that set students apart.
USC Price helps students find ways to build their career portfolios and learn employable skills through applied research and consulting projects, internships, undergraduate seminars, capstone projects, and special courses or programs that take place in Washington, D.C., Sacramento, Detroit, China and Germany.
“The return on investment is that we help your children navigate this space to find out those areas of their individual excellence and help to elevate them,” Lewis said.
Opportunities across the U.S. and around the world
Each summer, an urban planning lab assists organizations working to revitalize Detroit, which had faced major economic decline and bankruptcy. USC’s Washington Semester program allows students to spend a semester at George Washington University, living and getting internship opportunities in the nation’s capital.
Resh talked about his six-unit summer program, USC Price on the Rhine, which takes students to Speyer University in Germany for courses (taught in English) and excursions to cultural, political and socio-economic sites of interest. Travel and board for undergraduate students are free thanks to donations alumni and parents of Price undergraduates.
“We have a real mission in this program, and this is to develop international professionals out of our school,” Resh said. “Both the substantive and cultural experience will help students develop knowledge, skills and assets that are desired by prospective grad schools and employers.”
Resh mentioned that participants in the program have gone on to get a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in international relations, intern for the European Union and work for the German national government.
Lewis explained how these types of opportunities – while not mandated – provide “a different profile” for students. “You want to do everything you can to be distinguished from other candidates in all the right ways,” Lewis noted. “This kind of experience lets people know you’re willing to take a risk; you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone.”
In addition to the conversation featuring professors Lewis and Resh, USC Price hosted several other events as part of Trojan Family Weekend, including an election town hall discussion, a Dean’s breakfast, and a LEAP (Learning to Excel Academically and Professionally) hosted wine and cheese parents reception to wrap up the three-day activities.
From local government to global architecture, Price students explore NYC careers
By Cristy Lytal
This past spring break, 10 select students from the USC Price School of Public Policy took part in the first-ever New York City Trek — a unique, career-focused program that introduces students to the city’s professional landscape through site visits to five prominent employers.
Chosen from nearly 100 applicants, the 10 participants experienced the inaugural NYC Trek free of cost, thanks to the generosity of USC Price alumni David Penchoff, Mark Thompson and several others. The program was organized and hosted by the Price School’s Office of Career Services.
“We introduced our students to public service careers in the greatest interdisciplinary breadth, which is what we expect of them as scholar-practitioners,” said Price Career Services Director Valerie Savior. “And we evidenced the power of the Trojan network through panels, a mixer, and the connectedness of the alumni and their willingness give us so much of their time. We all walked away saturated with knowledge about how things work in New York in terms of policy, planning, transportation, public relations and government.”
Career Services Advisor Allyson Himelstein added: “The mission of the school is to improve communities here and abroad, and this trek gave students an opportunity to think about improving communities in New York. At the end of the day, every place that we went to was about either making a city more beautiful, more understandable, more livable or more seamless.”
USC Price alumnus Mark Thompson, center, with students (Photo by Ahmad Dahoul)
Undeterred by a heavy East Coast snowstorm, the students kicked off the trip with a welcome dinner hosted by USC Price parents, Xavier and Catherine Negroni.
They next visited the stunning offices of the architectural firm NBBJ, where they enjoyed panoramic views of the city and the Statue of Liberty. USC Price alumnus Mark Koechling hosted the visit.
“Visiting NBBJ Architects was most informative, as I was able to learn that there is so much more to an architecture firm than meets the eye, and realized that I fully intend to find a career in the architecture realm,” said undergraduate student Cristina Morales. “The New York Trek opened a door that will surely change my life immensely.”
From there, they walked to Capalino+Company, a government relations and strategic consulting firm.
According to Thompson, who hosted the visit, “Jim Capalino actually said, ‘I’ll come out and talk for a few minutes.’ He ended up talking about his distinguished career, Ed Koch, local politics and the current administration for 45 minutes or longer; and Jim is a legend in New York.”
Max Sherman, a master of planning (MPL) student, marveled at the fact that he “was able to get face time with executive management at companies that are industry leaders in their field.” He added, “For someone like me who is passionate about the urban planning and public affairs space, being able to meet with NBBJ and Capalino was a highlight of my entire time at Price.”
Public sector projects
Price students visit the New York City Office of Management and Budget. (Photo by Ahmad Dahoul)
Next on the schedule was the New York City Office of Management and Budget, hosted by USC Price alumnus David Greenberg.
“It was inspiring at OMB,” Savior said. “All the USC graduates — none of them are New Yorkers, and they all successfully landed gainful employment with steep promotion success.”
They then visited the New York City Department of Transportation’s Pedestrian Projects Division. Their host was USC Price alumna Terra Ishee, who gave a presentation highlighting pedestrian-based projects that are improving the safety and beauty of heavily trafficked urban areas.
To round out their experience, they visited the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services in Brooklyn. Host Andrew Erlichman, a Price alumnus, described the remarkably rapid transition to a paperless contracting system.
“The true value of the USC Sol Price degree is learning the practical implications of our education,” said master of public policy (MPP) student Ahmad Dahdoul. “While in New York, we met professionals from a range of disciplines taught at Price. Meeting these individuals and seeing where their Price education and Trojan network has gotten them, left all of us hopeful and inspired to achieve our dream jobs.”
In addition, they enjoyed a mixer and transportation panel moderated by Genevieve Giuliano, USC Price professor and director of the METRANS Transportation Center. Panelists included: Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation; Alison Conway from City College of New York; and Eliott Sclar from the Earth Institute’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development. The event also featured speakers Thompson and John Sonego, associate dean for development and external relations at USC Price.
“The Price New York Trek elucidated the robust nature of the Trojan Network due to the exposure to opportunities available on the East Coast,” said MPL student Sean Veal.
The farewell dinner, hosted by USC Price parents, Wan Man Lee and Suk Mi Lee, brought the students together to reflect on all that they had gained during the trek.
“What I enjoyed the most about the New York Trek was how close I became with the group of students who traveled with me to create strong connections at USC,” said Melody Klingenfuss Arteaga, a master of nonprofit leadership management student. “Being funded for this opportunity has helped me expand my California-concentrated mindset and be open to bigger ideas and possibilities anywhere I go.”
Undergraduate Vanessa Li added: “I reaped the sweet fruits of traveling to New York with a tremendous Career Services staff, financial support from the school and some of the brightest peers on this campus. Through conversations with firm executives, the most willing USC alumni network, prospective students and longtime public servants of the city of New York, I gained better industry knowledge of heath policy and management roles, career advice on further steps in pursuing a master’s degree and tangible, real-world interactions with those in interdisciplinary fields that was truly unparalleled.”
USC Price Academic Awards
Griffin Reese Kantz
USC Global Scholar
University-wide program, designed to encourage students to become outstanding world-citizens, while preparing them to navigate our increasingly-interdependent community
Braulio Nicolas Hoyos, Sunghea Khil, Nika Debora Shahery
USC Steven and Kathryn Sample Renaissance Scholar
Recognizes USC undergraduates who have excelled academically while pursuing at least two widely separated fields of study
Alexia Garcia, Griffin Reese Kantz, Emily Ruth Moneymaker, Audrey Ellen Peterson, Laura Marie Reilly, Nika Debora Shahery
USC Discovery Scholar
Recognizes students who excel in the classroom and display the ability to create exceptional new scholarship or artistic works
Etzioni Bianchi Community Service Award
Awarded to an outstanding graduating senior in recognition of excellence in community service and volunteerism
Emery E. Olson Award
Awarded to the outstanding graduating senior in recognition of excellence in scholarship and leadership potential
Nika Debora Shahery
Master of Health Administration Outstanding Student Awards
Awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional promise in the areas of service, commitment, leadership, and advocacy
- In recognition of excellence in service:
- In recognition of excellence in advocacy:
- In recognition of excellence in commitment:
- In recognition of excellence in leadership:
John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation Award for Outstanding MPA Capstone Project
Kristin Marie Butts, Margaret Elaine Ferrill, Kristina Kolesa Hummel, Steven James Ozinga
“Austria and the Refugee Crisis: An Analysis of American Sentiment in Social versus Print Media”
Prepared for: Embassy of Austria to the United States
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Dora Vertenten
Dr. Shui Yan Tang Award For An Aspiring Local Government Professional
Awarded to the graduating MPA student who best exhibits the commitment, enthusiasm, and achievement meeting the spirit of service exemplified by Dr. Yan Tang
Angela Hana Cho
Jane G. Pisano Award for Exemplary Community Service
Robert P. Biller Award for Excellence in the Practicum
Jacob Denney, Celia Guo, Ellen Lawther, Britney Wise
“Reducing Officer Involved Shootings in Fresno, California”
Client: American Civil Liberties Union
Master of International Public Policy and Management (IPPAM)
Sitti Safarah Memorial Award
Awarded to outstanding graduating IPPAM students in recognition of dedicated community service and professional promise in international development
Ani Apyan, Hussein Heykal
Dollinger MRED Awards
Dollinger Master of Real Estate Development Comprehensive Examination Prize for Outstanding Achievement
Marc Cucco, Randolph Wolters
MRED Program Distinction in Memory of Professor Rena Sivitanidou
Recognizes exceptional academic and professional engagement while pursuing the Dollinger MRED degree
Michelle Bates, Tomoka Hayashi
D.J. Moore Award for Exceptional Professional Promise
Awarded to student for outstanding attainment in study of planning
Gwendolyn von Klan
Gordon Whitnall Award
For outstanding academic achievement in planning
MPL Program First Year Academic Achievement and Promise
Awarded to first year MPL student recognizing academic achievement and promise
MPL Program Graduating Student for Meritorious Achievement
Awarded to a graduating MPL student recognizing meritorious achievement in MPL program
Lowdon Wingo Prize
Awarded to a student in planning and development for exemplary academic achievement
Lewis Mumford Prize
Awarded to an undergraduate or graduate student in planning for the most outstanding essay in planning history
Ni An, Matt Garron, Jason King, Andrea Maldonado-Lopez, Jessica Reyes (“Downtown Los Angeles Community Plan: A History of Displacement”)
MPL Comprehensive Examination Prize for Outstanding Achievement
Recognizes those who have earned honors on the MPL Comprehensive Examination
- Economic Development:
Kora McNaughton, Max Sherman
- Preservation and Design of the Built Environment:
- Social and Community Planning:
- Sustainable Land Use Planning:
Courtney Holt, Sabrina Church
- Transportation and Infrastructure Planning:
John Dyckman Dissertation Award
Awarded to the graduating Ph.D. student in planning who has produced the best dissertation
“Three Essays on Frictions in Housing Markets”
Dissertation Chair: Dr. Raphael Bostic
Henry Reining, Jr. Dissertation Award
Awarded to the graduating Ph.D. student in public administration/public policy who has produced the best dissertation
“The Impact of Mobility and Government Rental Subsidies on the Welfare of Households and Affordable Markets”
Dissertation Chair: Dr. Gary Painter and Dr. Raphael Bostic
Doctor of Policy, Planning, and Development Outstanding Project Award
Awarded to the DPPD graduate(s) who produced the best project
John Lee Drake
“A Public Sector Strategic Planning Model: Prioritizing a Community-Focused, Inclusive, and Collaborative Approach”
Faculty Chair: Dr. Debbie Natoli
USC Price School rises in US News & World Report rankings
The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy continued its ascent in the national rankings, moving up to fourth place – from sixth previously – in the newest list of Best Graduate Schools for Public Affairs, published by U.S. News & World Report.
With its No. 4 ranking, USC Price places in the top 1.5 percent of 272 schools of public affairs nationwide. The latest U.S. News rankings were released online March 16.
The Price School improved in several academic subcategories, while remaining in the top 10:
- City Management and Urban Policy – No. 3 (up from No. 7 in 2012)
- Health Policy and Management – No. 3 (up from No. 4)
- Public Management and Administration – No. 4 (up from No. 6)
- Nonprofit Management – No. 6 (up from No. 7)
- Social Policy – No. 9 (unchanged)
USC Price also improved its rankings in:
- Public Policy Analysis – No. 11 (up from No. 12)
- Environmental Policy and Management – No. 15 (previously unranked)
- Public Finance and Budgeting – No. 18 (up from No. 21)
Three other schools are ranked by U.S. News at No. 4 along with the Price School, including Princeton University and the University of Georgia.
“This is a special moment for the Price School — to rise steadily within the rankings and to be recognized by our peers for our leadership in teaching, research and outreach,” said Dean Jack H. Knott. “This upward trajectory is a proud achievement for our hardworking faculty, staff and students, whose commitment to solutions and dedication to improving our communities make the Price School a standout among public affairs schools.”
In addition, USC Price placed in the top 10 of the Planetizen rankings of Urban Planning schools in 2015 (at No. 9).
U.S. News & World Report released its first public affairs ratings in 1998, and has issued five sets of rankings since then. The USC Price School has steadily risen, moving up from eighth in ’98 and ’01, to seventh in ’04 and ’08, to sixth in ’12, and now fourth in ’16.