The Georgetown University Real Estate Alliance Mentorship Program, with support from the Steers Center for Global Real Estate at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, connects undergraduate and MBA students with alumni who can add a unique and essential dimension to the students’ academic experience. The program enhances students’ career experiences and opportunities and has led to placements at top real estate firms, according to Matthew Cypher, the Atara Kaufman Professor of Real Estate and director of the Steers Center.

Each pairing lasts one year, and during that time, mentors help students decide which area of real estate is right for them, facilitate introductions in the industry, and develop a roadmap for their mentees' futures.

The program was formed in 2014 and initially consisted of 15 student-alumni pairs, all located in Washington, D.C. By 2016, the program had doubled in size and expanded to include professionals in New York.

“The program has exceeded my expectations. I did not realize we would have access to very senior managers with such diverse backgrounds,” said Alex Hermance (B’11, MBA’18).

Successful mentors bring extensive connections. With the help of his mentor, Nick Franzetti (MBA’06), senior vice president at ASB Capital Management, Hermance has connected with a number of Georgetown alumni in the industry.

“It’s a common misconception that mentoring relationships exist just to get you a job. In reality that’s only one part of the story,” said Jessica Flugge (MBA’06), co-director of the mentorship program and vice president at Marriott International. “The program is an opportunity to build relationships between students and alumni and to share experiences.”

“We want students to feel like they are assimilating into the real estate field before they even leave campus,” added Larry Palumbo (B’00), co-founder and co-director of Georgetown's Real Estate Alliance and partner and chief operating officer of Falcon Partners LLC.

Franzetti joined the mentorship program to fill a gap that existed when he was a student­­. When he decided to pursue a real estate career, there weren’t many opportunities for exposure to the industry or guidance as he searched for career insights.

“I would encourage anyone to participate as a student or an alumnus. It’s a great resource for both the mentor and the mentee,” Franzetti added, such as the benefits of staying connected to Georgetown and meeting promising candidates who will soon enter the industry.

While the primary objective of the program is not employment, it has the potential to be a fortunate byproduct. Through Franzetti’s connections, Harmance landed an internship at ASB Capital Management that will become a full-time position upon his graduation. Hermance reflected on the value of working in the same firm as his mentor and emphasized the importance of knowing someone in his office advocated for him on a personal level, rather than just at a corporate level.

According to participants and administrators, the program serves its purpose, with the added benefit of deepening student and alumni commitment to the university.

“Having a Georgetown alumnus as a mentor personalizes the experience,” said Hermance. “Nick has been able to offer me sound advice, as he understands the strengths and challenges of a Georgetown program.”