USC Price School of Public Policy

Price Student Q&A: Melissa Schem

Hometown: Pacific Palisades, CA
Major: Real Estate Development

Q. What inspired you to choose your major?

A. I recently changed my major to Real Estate Development from Human Biology. I took a real estate law class during my sophomore year and was enticed by the subject. After switching majors, I have enjoyed the subject even more and am excited about the prospect of pursuing a future in real estate. In addition, my father is also the man who originally introduced me to real estate and got me excited about the career prospects in the field. Growing up, he constantly pushed me to do better and work harder in school. He was involved in real estate and we always talked about his deals around the dinner table.

Q. What opportunities has Price afforded you?

A. The tight knit community at Price has allowed me to participate in events such as the Women in Real Estate Luncheon where I was able to meet my fellow undergrad peers as well as older students pursuing their masters in Real Estate at Price. In addition, at the luncheon I was able to hear from many very influential women in the business and learn about their experiences. Through Price, I have been able to develop my education by taking very specialized classes to my Real Estate interests while still pursuing a valuable degree.

Q. What skills have you developed in your time at Price?

A. Since I have transferred into the Price School, I have developed skillsets in every field — from technical subjects such as excel and finance, to more interpersonal skills such as management. I love the wide range of classes that my major, Real Estate Development, allows me to take and that I am able to continue to develop my analytical skills and my more general skills at the same time.

Q. Tell us about your internship experience.

A. The summer going into my Junior year (this past summer), I interned for Caruso Affiliated as an Operations and Management Summer Associate. Not only did I work on the everyday tasks of managing a large retail property, but I also worked on a team project that we presented in front of the entire company. In my daily tasks, I reviewed leases to find information like parking rates, percentage rent, breakpoints, and cleaning responsibilities. I also assisted in writing a 100-page operations manual for the company. For our team project we researched environmental sustainability in regards to businesses and did a case study on an old property to determine how to increase revenue and decrease expense.

Q. What class have you enjoyed most at Price and why?

A. RED 362: Real Estate Development Fundamentals with Professor Nielsen is the class I have enjoyed most so far at Price because it encompasses all of the things I am interested in and brings them all together in one class. Professor Nielsen covers everything from leases to brokerage to the everyday management of properties and he has real life experience that he applies to all of it, which makes the course one of the best!

Q. What are your future career plans?

A. My future goals entail finding a successful career path in real estate, which excites me and allows me to continue to learn. Though I am not positive about my specific career path, I want to learn a lot while I am still an undergrad at USC so that I can find something that fits these criteria. Real Estate Development has always been an interest of mine and I am also considering law school in the future. I have chosen to add a Business Law minor, which would help me develop these future career plans. Most importantly, I want to be challenged by and excited about my career.

Q. What is the best advice anyone has given to you regarding your education?

A. The best advice I have received was to take advantage of being a student and really focus on learning and developing new skills while still in school. In discussions with recent graduates, they have emphasized the importance of taking advantage of all the services USC has to offer when it comes to developing students’ lives, minds, and careers.