By Ed Brennen
Whenever Yare Vasquez would attend a networking event, she felt too shy to strike up conversations and make new connections.
After participating in the recent Commercial Real Estate Finance Council (CREFC) conference in Miami, however, Vasquez is feeling a whole lot more confident.
“I realized that anyone is approachable. Business leaders attend these conferences to educate future leaders and want to aid them in success,” says Vasquez, a Lawrence, Massachusetts, native with concentrations in accounting and finance. “Even though I’m just a sophomore in college at the moment and far from being fully educated on the topics of real estate, I have a passion to learn, and that is what’s most important.”
Vasquez was joined at the three-day conference during the winter intersession by fellow Manning School of Business students Anirban Dasgupta, Wilton Ortega and Henry Rosa. They are all members of the Real Estate Network Association (RENA), a student organization that connects members with alumni and professionals working in the industry.
The conference included panel discussions and talks with leaders from financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup, as well as a keynote address by skateboarding legend and entrepreneur Tony Hawk.
Dasgupta, who aspires to a career in commercial real estate finance, returned home from the conference feeling more prepared for future job interviews.
“I gained real-world insight into the state of real estate capital markets, given the recessionary times our economy is facing,” says Dasgupta, a junior finance student from Westborough, Massachusetts.
Rosa, a sophomore finance student from Methuen, Massachusetts, appreciated the opportunity to network with young professionals, as well as other business students from across the country.
“Being able to talk to fellow students about how they’re going forward in their journeys was very helpful. It showed that there are many paths,” he says.
This was the first time Manning School students attended the CREFC conference. Their trip was funded by Dean Sandra Richtermeyer’s office.
“We can’t thank Dean Richtermeyer enough for making this trip possible. It made a big impact on our career journeys,” says Ortega, a junior accounting and finance student from Methuen who serves as RENA vice president. “No matter the sector, everyone at the conference had their minds on the real estate market and were looking for more opportunities.”
By establishing a relationship with CREFC members, Dasgupta hopes the group opened the door for other Manning School students to attend future events “and have the same amazing experience we had.”