The following interns were hosted at these offices during the program:
Bennett Fraser, Valbridge Property Advisors | Charleston
Matthew McIntyre, Valbridge Property Advisors | Charleston
Teagan Compton, Valbridge Property Advisors | Chicago
Jaila Simms, Valbridge Property Advisors | Dallas
Luke Lonneman, Valbridge Property Advisors | Indianapolis
Mauri Peterson, Valbridge Property Advisors | Kansas City
Jack Benedict, Valbridge Property Advisors | Minneapolis
Tyler Gin, Valbridge Property Advisors | Orlando
Angelo Brunetti, Valbridge Property Advisors | Philadelphia
Mitchell Ledet, Valbridge Property Advisors | South Louisiana
Madeline Brown, Valbridge Property Advisors | San Antonio
Experiencing New Orleans at the Scholars’ Summit
While the first cohort visited San Antonio for their Summit, this group headed down to the Big Easy for an unforgettable, whirlwind of a trip. Here, the interns toured local enterprises where developers, business operators, and our very own Arthur “Art” Schwertz, MAI, presented on commercial real estate and appraisal.
Art Schwertz is the Senior Managing Director (SMD) of Valbridge Property Advisors | South Louisiana, the office that hosted the Summit this year. Through the efforts of Sheila Schwertz, Vice President of Staff and Community Relations, their office curated the itinerary for the Scholars’ Summit, ensuring the interns both experienced the city’s highlights and received a backstage look at commercial real estate and appraisal.
Sheila Schwertz reached out to their contacts through which she secured onsite Q&A interviews, and presentations with:
Bear Cheezem, VP of Woodward Interests, who shared about the development of Vue Orleans, a 360°, interactive way to experience the Crescent City from the vantage of the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans (which the interns traveled to by streetcar, down the historic Canal Street);
Paul Matthews, CEO of the Port of South Louisiana, who gave a presentation with a Q&A, and described the intersection of appraisal and their operations at the Port; and
Art Schwertz (mentioned previously), who discussed his appraisal of the historic Saenger Theatre after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, in conjunction with a behind-the-scenes tour of the renovated property.
The tours of these venues and corresponding Q&A sessions were kindly facilitated by:
David Rand, General Manager of Vue Orleans
Brian Cox, Operations Manager of the Port of South Louisiana
E.P. Miller, Operations Manager of the Saenger Theatre, with KC Guidry, Director of Operations and Administration with the New Orleans Building Corporation
During the trip, the interns stayed at the Wyndham Hotel in the city’s French Quarter, toured the area by carriage, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Bourbon Street.
They also savored the tastes of New Orleans at Crescent City Brewhouse, Café Beignet, Parkway Tavern, and Curio, where they feasted on specialties like fried alligator, boudin balls, seafood cheesecake, po’boy sandwiches, and more.
The interns exuded enthusiasm about the whole program, often highlighting the impact of the Summit trip.
“The trip itself was so memorable and amazing,” says Brown, a rising senior at Texas A&M who is majoring in finance. “It was so well thought out—from the beginning to the end—and I feel like I got a lot out of that trip, just getting to meet all the supervisors, getting to meet all the other interns.”
Fraser, a rising senior studying business administration with a minor in commercial real estate at the College of Charleston, agreed with Brown, saying “the trip to New Orleans was the highlight” because it allowed her to connect with the other interns and learn from the presenters. She also appreciates how it provided the opportunity to spend time with supervisors outside the office where she could “talk to them about real estate and everything to do with their jobs.” It was, she adds, the perfect finish to her experience with the program.
As a senior in his final semester at Temple University, earning a degree in real estate and finance, Brunetti also recalls enjoying an informal and informative conversation during the Summit in which Josh Wood, MAI, JD, AI-GRS shared about the cost approach to valuation and how it involves entrepreneurial incentives. Brunetti says this was one of the most intriguing concepts of commercial real estate appraisal: “how the actual businesses in the properties really determine what it’s worth.” On the trip, he adds, “I feel like we learned a lot.”
A recent graduate with an MBA from Florida State, Gin shared the impact of seeing Art Schwertz discuss the Saenger Theatre and how to approach valuation of specialty properties. “Usually when you think of appraisal,” Gin says, “I’m thinking of like a skyscraper or restaurant. But seeing the historical theater definitely was unique.”
Compton—a rising senior at Purdue majoring in finance with a minor in entrepreneurship—echoed this, saying, “It was really cool because Art and Sheila [Schwertz] took us on a couple of tours of different buildings” including the Saenger Theatre. “It was really interesting to hear how they appraised that because it’s a historical building, which is already hard to appraise, and they had development going on, so there’s a lot of moving parts. It’s really interesting to hear how they dealt with those struggles and overcame them.”
The final Summit trip helped the interns to “feel a part of the program and a part of the company in a way that would be difficult to replicate in more traditional ways,” says Michele Wood, the primary coordinator for the internship, and the Vice President of Professional Development for the Valbridge offices operating in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Fargo, and St. Louis.
With the Summit, she adds, they had the opportunity to learn more about the many ways in which appraisers interact with the built environment while offering access to career insights from high-level professionals in commercial real estate.
The South Louisiana office, “and specifically Sheila Schwertz,” Michele Wood says, “did an incredible job of putting together some amazing experiences… She did great.”
In their discussions on the Summit, the interns often noted the friendships and connections they made during the trip.
“They just bonded so hard,” Michele Wood says with a smile. “They kept saying, like, ‘Are we ever going to see each other again? We should plan a reunion.’”
“I made such a great relationship with all the interns that I feel like I’m going to remember forever,” Fraser shares.
Brunetti agrees, saying how “getting to meet all the other interns” played a key part in why he “had a ton of fun on the trip.”
“It was amazing,” Lonneman says of the Summit. “Everything we did was perfect. The itinerary was perfectly planned… Especially having people like the Schwertzes and the Woods with us, I mean, they just bring people together. It truly made a family out of us interns.”
The Value of the Summit
The Summit, Michele Wood believes, was a key influence in the decision of some of last year’s interns taking on full-time positions with the company afterward. These interns are “coming out of very prestigious real estate programs,” she notes, and this whole internship program provides them “a wonderful background” that helps them “plug in and be productive pretty past compared to a brand-new hire.”
Regarding the Summit, she says, “I just think it’s so wonderful that Valbridge is supporting and funding this aspect of the program.”
Stay tuned for more on the interns’ Capstone projects, highlights from the Lunch ‘n’ Learn presentations, and the expert insights they gleaned from hands-on experience with Team Blue.