Cornell Real Estate Club Visits Alumni and Professionals in New York

By: Shana Kathleen Claar
CREC student group poses near Related Companies welcome desk for picture in NYC

By Ethan Nagasako ‘26 and Alicia Zhou ‘27 

Each semester, members of the Cornell Real Estate Club (CREC) travel to various cities for a career trek with the support of the Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF) in the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration. For spring 2024, the two-day trip to New York City allowed participants to network with professionals from TPG, Avison Young, Newmark, PJT Partners, Wells Fargo, Related Companies, J.P. Morgan, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.


The first stop on our career enrichment trek was TPG, where we were warmly received by CREC alumni Jonathan Le ’23. We were able to learn about their unique approach to investing, which involves a rigorous research process and thematic company and platform-level acquisitions much akin to their private equity business. We also gained insights into their joint venture with Digital Realty to take advantage of the data center boom.

Avison Young

The next stop was Avison Young, where we were delighted to be hosted by Scott Singer ’94. We received a detailed overview of their broad range of services and was able to hear a walkthrough of their biggest deals. We also learned a lot about debt and equity financing for real estate.


While half of the group visited Avison Young, the other half went to a different brokerage firm, Newmark. There, we learned about their investment sales and capital markets businesses, as well as the suite of advisory services that they provide to clients.

PJT Partners

The final stop of Day 1 was PJT Partners. We got to meet bankers across their different teams including M&A, Camberview, and Park Hill. It was very interesting to get perspectives from individuals outside of real estate, including George Sotelo ’22, a former CREC co-president who now works in M&A. We also got to learn about the formation of PJT from Blackstone’s advisory business from one of the founding senior bankers at the firm.

Wells Fargo

On Day 2, we started at Wells Fargo in Hudson Yards. There, we learned about their many roles across Real Estate Banking, Securitization & Capital Markets, Specialty Real Estate Finance, and Multifamily Capital. As the largest commercial real estate lender, Wells Fargo uses their synergies to provide debt solutions across the life cycle of the property from construction financing to long-term CMBS debt. The presentation was led by Ian Quan ’08 who is a Director in their Hospitality Finance Group, who was accompanied by many Cornell alumni. It was very insightful to see the debt side of real estate, as it can be a great career path for young professionals looking to gain lots of deal exposure.

Related Companies

We also had the privilege of visiting Related Companies, one of the largest real estate development firms in the world. Since they are the developer of Hudson Yards, where their office is located, we were able to learn about the project, see models of the properties, and take a site tour on foot. They also explained their many lines of business in real estate, including development, asset and portfolio management, construction, and infrastructure.

J.P. Morgan

After Wells Fargo and Related, we stopped at J.P. Morgan, where we learned from their CMBS team about the role of banks in originating structured debt. We had the privilege of hearing about the day-to-day life of the team from junior bankers playing different roles, including CMBS underwriting and originations, securitization, and investing in high-yield balance sheet debt. We also got to hear one of the heads of the team about her career path in the CMBS world and how the industry has changed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Four Seasons

Our last stop of the trek was Four Seasons, where we were fortunate to tour the different offered suites ranging from the Brooklyn Room to the Empire Suite. It was particularly interesting to hear the various ADR for each type of room and the detail that went into each amenity. Students then had the opportunity to speak with professionals from various departments to learn about Sales, HR, and Marketing.

Student Perspectives

Alicia Zhou ‘27, Executive Board Member

“The career enrichment trek to New York was an incredible experience. During our visits to different employers, we were able to network with a variety of analysts who shared their work and passion in their field. I gained deeper insight into each firm’s firm culture and investment theses. The career trek not only broadened my real estate knowledge but also reinforced CREC’s strong alumni relationship. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this trip and am excited to apply these insights in the future.”

Ethan Nagasako ‘26, Executive Board Member

“The trek was an amazing way for us to make connections with young professionals in the real estate industry. We were able to get exposure across the industry across banking, brokerage, private equity, and development in the span of two days. Meeting alumni who were in your shoes as students and listening to them talk about their work brings to life all of the concepts that we learn about in CREC. It makes you realize how valuable all of the relationships that you form are because these are the people you will be working with throughout your career.” ­­­

The Cornell Real Estate Club would like to thank all participating companies for their hospitality and willingness to connect with our group. These treks are invaluable experiential learning opportunities, and help our members acquire real-world knowledge and connections that we will take with us into our future careers.

About the authors:

Ethan Nagasako ’26 is a student at the Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration pursuing a major in Hotel Administration and a minor in Real Estate. Ethan is an Executive Board Member for the Cornell Real Estate Club.


Alicia Zhou ’27 is a student at the Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration, minoring in Real Estate and Data Science. Alicia is an Executive Board Member for the Cornell Real Estate Club.