Four major Charlotte commercial real estate firms are partnering with the Urban Land Institute and Project Destined, a New York-based nonprofit, to offer internships to students of diverse backgrounds at three Charlotte campuses in an effort to spur more minority involvement in the development sector.
Beacon Partners, Crescent Communities, Faison and Asana Partners will offer paid internships that offer real-world experience starting this spring. The program will begin as a virtual program and include students from UNC Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College and Johnson C. Smith University, a historically Black institution. Johnson C. Smith is offering its first real estate course this spring.
The partnership “builds a scalable wealth creation pathway for students and also establishes real estate as a viable and recognized career path,” Cedric Bobo, a former Carlyle Group investment banker who founded Project Destined, said in a statement. “By providing students with the knowledge, a network, access, and a credential (license), this partnership provides a quantified opportunity for participants to build a professional skill set and access the sector. We believe this internship sets the standard for educational opportunities that foster diversity and inclusion and contribute to more vibrant, unified communities.”
Interns will work in corporate-backed teams and will dedicate up to 40 hours to working within the commercial real estate industry.
It’s crucial for the industry to be “proactive about seeking out diverse perspectives and candidates,” said Brendan Pierce, senior managing director of commercial development at Crescent Communities. “We’re very excited to partner with Project Destined to help develop and mentor strong leaders within Charlotte’s commercial real estate space.”
Project Destined has worked with more than 1,000 students since its founding, with intership programs in at least eight major cities. The group has worked on a Durham project involving middle school, high school and university students. ULI is coordinating the partnership between Project Destined and the real estate firms.
“Ultimately, we see this as an important step in changing the real estate industry to be more reflective of the rich diversity that makes the communities where we invest so attractive,” said Brian Purcell, managing director of Asana Partners.