by Jacqueline A. Falla
I could reference an outstretched hand, a mentor, coach, or guide, the likes of which sound-minded individuals would not even consider canoeing down the Congo without. However, I am in the construction industry, and most of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about when I reference scaffolding, the strong, sure, stabilizing structure, erected until the foundation, walls, and internal bones of the building are strong and true. That is what the CREST internship program provides to young women and underrepresented populations of college students that may or may not have known that there was a place for them to flourish inside the commercial real estate industry.
To be clear, knowing is not enough. A young person needs a network of people actively vested in their success. The CREST internship program is uniquely structured to provide just that. It unwittingly tapped into one of the industry’s most formidable assets: our competitive nature. To hear industry partners, which include developers, commercial real estate professionals, architects, builders, and some of Boston’s biggest businesses, brag about their interns as if they were their own children, bantering on about who connected who to whom, attended more industry and networking events, compiled the longest recommended reading list, imparted advice, strategized for the win, and/or received a full-time offer, is to know that the program has succeeded. Like so many good deeds done, you get at least as much of the reward as the student. Pride and purpose during a time when we are desperate to fortify our ranks with talented professionals, at every stage of their career and in nearly every capacity, CREST is certainly not the only answer, but it’s a good one.
The ten week paid internship program is a partnership between employers and local colleges that identify high performing women and people of color to participate. The CREST team recruits, interviews, selects and matches these highly qualified students with participating CRE employers. In addition to their employment, students receive skills enhancement through the CREST Virtual Education Program (VEP). They learn presentations skills, public speaking, writing, and more. When students return to college in the fall, they become ambassadors for the program, and our industry.
CREST has gathered an impressive group of industry supporters since its inception. NAIOP, ULI, CREW GBREB and CoreNet Global New England Chapter are among the industry organizations that are working to bring visibility to this important program. CoreNet offers five corporate members the opportunity to apply for a half funded participation grant. This year, CoreNet paired six CREST interns with mentors in the industry. Whether it’s the competitive spirit at play, or an altruistic desire to help, our success is tethered to theirs, and the time to invest in the next generation of leaders is now.
Jacqueline A. Falla serves as a member of Elaine Construction’s Leadership Team as director of client services.