Over the next four weeks, the Office of Professional Development will highlight career and internship success stories. We encourage you to learn from the actions of these students and apply their lessons to your own job or internship search. We are proud of the accomplishments of our students and hope you will be inspired by their stories!

Name, major, and hometown
Gabriella Perez, Real Estate, Major, Legal Studies, Minor Tampa, FL


What is your job/internship and why do you think it’s cool:
I’m an intern at Weingarten Realty in Orlando, FL. I’m in the Property Management division working on temporary income projects. I think it’s really cool because everything I’ve learned so far in the classroom is being applied and used at my internship. I took Advanced Topics in Real Estate my senior spring semester, which ultimately was a development class and case competition. I felt like that class made me a well-rounded candidate since it involved all aspects of Real Estate (think of it as the Capstone for the Real Estate major!)

Describe your duties and give us a “picture” of what you are doing.
I’m 60% in the office, 40% outside the office. Lately I’ve been getting familiar with our Central Florida portfolio and doing property visits and inspections in Orlando, Oviedo, Seminole and Clermont. I’ve learned so much on these property visits. My boss, Christian Trani is the regional property manager of the Central Florida region so I report to him. I have a cubical, like most interns would do. I have a really cool spread of site plans all over my office which I call decorations. Within this Orlando Office we have 3 main divisions, Construction, Leasing and Property Management. However, we have many other offices and our headquarters is in Houston, TX. Our combined efforts reach every aspect of Real Estate. Weingarten is A HUGE national Real Estate firm and REIT. You can find it on the NY Stock Exchange under “WRI”…. Here’s the website for more information: http://www.weingarten.com/home/default.aspx

How did you find your internship?
I originally found out about this internship through an email from Sandra McCauley in Experiential Learning. I had met with her previously in the Fall semester about my goals for obtaining an internship related to Real Estate before I graduated. We reviewed my resume and perfected it. At the end of the semester, through a colleague in the College of Business, I found out about this opportunity and applied, realizing it was one that Sandra had mentioned to me earlier. I applied for it, went through the internship process, and now I’m interning at Weingarten Realty!

Did you make any mistakes in your search (or things you thought were a mistake) and how did you recover?
Well, I had a previous internship that I didn’t enjoy as much. I’ve taken internships that haven’t paid either. You just have to learn from your mistakes and experiences and make the best of out of them!

Was this something you ever thought you’d do? If so, how long did you know you wanted to do this?
I’ve been meaning to pursue Real Estate and law for quite some time now. I actually want to pursue Corporate and Real Estate Law and gaining experience within both fields is something I’ve been doing and want to continue to do until I attend law school. My Real Estate Law and Business Law classes really helped me realize that I wanted to pursue and combine both of my interest.

I was that freshman that changed my major back and forth 5 times! I even studied abroad in Italy in order to get my thoughts and life together in my academic career! I’ve wanted to pursue law my entire life because I’ve had a passion for it, however I was always intrigued by Real Estate and studied Business in the past four years.

How does this opportunity fit into your long-term career goals?
I plan on taking the next year off from school to work and obtain my Real Estate license. I will be taking my LSAT and applying to law school in the next year because that is a long-term goal of mine. In the future, I want to do Corporate/Real Estate Law. Right now, I’m gaining experience in the Real Estate field and learning as much as possible through this end to learn the business aspect of the field.

What have you learned about yourself in this role?
I have learned that I work well under pressure and also need to allocate my time better and time management is key to this role. I am graduating at the end of Summer 2014, and I balance this internship with 3 Classes. I’m currently enrolled in Capstone at this time as well as completing my legal studies minor.

What skills, tools, etc. have you had to learn in this role?
I’m still acquiring skills and tools in this role but so far I’m adapting to all the new databases, software and office work in general. I’m still finding my niche; it’s just my third week here!

What keeps you going back everyday? What challenges do you face?
Weingarten Realty has a really exciting and competitive internship program. Every office within the nation has 1 Summer Intern; we have phone conferences with all the other interns bi-weekly. My personal goal and a reason why I come in everyday are to be the best intern within the internship program and represent the Orlando office well. My short-term goal is to generate $50,000 in temporary income for the company through short-term and temporary projects; this is the highest out of all the interns! This is definitely a challenge for me!

Did you get any advice while you were in school that helped? From whom?
I received an immense about of knowledge from all my mentors within the College of Business, from colleagues to professors. I think it’s easy to get lost within UCF, you just have to stand out.

I know everyone always says this, but GET INVOLVED. That is the BEST advice I ever got and I truly took every opportunity that came my way within the College of Business and greater UCF. In the past 4 years, I was involved in Kappa Delta Sorority and served as Panhellenic Delegate. I was a SGA Senator for the College of Business, Seat 7. I served as the Legislative Assistant for SGA and ran a mentorship program. I served as a Student Ambassador for the College of Business and helped begin the program! I was a LEAD Scholar and participated in Knightthon, Relay for Life and Habitat for Humanity’s Shack-a-thon over the years. I’ve had 3 internships as well. You got to make yourself stand out and be a well-rounded person and candidate.

What advice would you give a student just coming into the college regarding making the next two years productive and resulting in success?
Internships are crucial to gaining work experience and out of the classroom knowledge; I believe every student should do an internship in their work related field before they graduate. I’ve had 3 internships throughout my undergraduate career. Some were paid, somewhere unpaid. Some were for course credit, others just for the experience; you got to take what you can get. Also, not everything you will do will be fun, interns do get the dirty work sometimes and short end of the stick!

What job search tips would you pass along to other students?
Start Early! Use the College of Business as a resource but ultimately it’s up to you to help yourself gain an internship. Use every resource the college provides, they are immensely helpful! Reach out to professors, advisors, and staff for help! I promise they will help you if you’re eager and willing to help yourself!

Thanks Gaby!!