-By Scott Lynn

Being involved in commercial real estate has always been a continuing educational experience. Not only is it gratifying to embrace these experiences whenever and wherever you can, but it is equally gratifying to return the favor and give back.

REFIC LogoFor the last several years, I’ve been a member of The University of Texas at Austin McCombs Real Estate Finance & Investment Center (“REFIC”) with a stated purpose of “bringing together exceptional faculty and top industry professionals to cultivate cutting-edge research and curricula for undergraduate and graduate students. UT REFIC combines the disciplines of finance, real estate, law, design and planning, and is designed to place graduates with the nation’s leading real estate firms”.

This is a fantastic, purposeful and extremely talented organization that is a WIN/WIN/WIN for members, faculty and most importantly, the students. The center creates a variety of opportunities for students to gain real-world experiences through its membership knowledge base via mentoring, internships, project tours, case studies and group discussions that involve highly focused expertise.

Each fall, REFIC sponsors the National Real Estate Challenge, where graduate student teams from the top business schools come to Austin to compete in front of a panel of senior commercial real estate executives. The competition showcases some of the very best future real estate talent in action working as team to present and make recommendations on a complex commercial property situation. For the attendee, the experience is equivalent to watching the best athletes try out for a professional team. The recruitment, networking and schmoozing opportunities are boundless where the students really are the primary beneficiaries.

As a REFIC member, Metropolitan Capital Advisors has mentored, interned and recruited numerous UT (and non-UT) students with the ambition of entering commercial real estate as a career. And nothing makes us feel better than to learn a student we’ve been mentoring got picked for an internship or even better, one of our interns grows into a full-time position with our firm.

By the numbers, REFIC membership stands at 224, representing 38 cities and not all members are UT grads (just in case you’re interested in joining). UT grad or not, REFIC’s leadership is committed to making UT’s real estate program one of the best in the nation. To that end, REFIC successfully raised funds to capitalize a REIT fund that is managed by UT students. REFIC is now in the process of raising an additional fund that will make investments in private real estate deals, so that students can learn firsthand about the differentiation in public versus private investments. Now that’s an incredible educational experience!

To learn more about the McCombs Real Estate Finance and Investment Center go to https://www.mccombs.utexas.edu/Centers/REFIC.

The author, Scott Lynn, is the Founding Principal of Metropolitan Capital Advisors.