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A conversation with our CREST Intern, Olivia Pedro: Her View from the Construction Site

August 2023

Northstar is committed to mentoring and nurturing the next generation of talent with a passion for pursuing careers in project management. As part of our internship/co-op program, we collaborate with institutions such as Northeastern University, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and CREST (Commercial Real Estate Success Training) to identify exceptional candidates.

During the summer, we had the pleasure of introducing Olivia Pedro to our team. Currently in her senior year and pursuing a major in management at Bentley University, Olivia joined Northstar through the CREST program. We took the opportunity to sit down with Olivia and gain insights into her experience as a part of our Northstar team throughout the summer.

Tell us a little about your background

I was born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts, and spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard at my family’s vacation home. I am going into my last semester at Bentley University this fall. I am a management major with a concentration in leadership, which I decided to pursue after taking Human Behavior in Organizations during my Junior year. The class taught me how unique every person is and that the more diverse an organization is through its people, the more powerful it can be. I was introduced to Northstar through the CREST program, which helps those who are underrepresented in the commercial real estate industry get their foot in the door through internships. Project management interested me because I knew I would experience all the different aspects of commercial real estate while making many new connections with people of other disciplines.

How would you describe your internship experience at Northstar to others?

During my internship experience with Northstar, I was immersed in a whirlwind of engaging challenges and growth opportunities. From day one, I was trusted with weekly tasks and projects under the guidance of experienced mentors. The company’s supportive culture encouraged me to voice my ideas and take ownership of my tasks. What I enjoyed most about my time spent with Northstar was the hands-on experience of my projects. One of my most memorable ones was water tests. I worked closely with the engineers on the project to determine the cause of the leaks we saw. During this process, I became increasingly familiar with the protocols of conducting a water test, what to look for, and how to help the engineers.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned with your internship at Northstar?

I learned that the environment you choose to work in makes all the difference. Coming into Northstar, I did not have much experience with Project Management or Commercial Real Estate, but the firm was very supportive and created an environment that allowed me to ask as many questions as I needed to strengthen my technical understanding of the job. Additionally, if there was ever a time that I expressed interest in something, my coworkers were always going out of their way to help me learn more through calls, building tours, or chatting over lunch.

What was the most rewarding thing about working with the Northstar team?

The most rewarding thing about working with the Northstar team was knowing I was at a firm that genuinely cares about their employees and the experience that they have at the firm. Northstar has committees that allow employees to pursue interests that they have beyond their role of being a project manager. I got to join the marketing committee and help with a project that welcomed my ideas and perspective. The committee program also stood out to me because I was able to attend one of the companywide committee-organized events, “Lunch and Learn.” All the employees came together for lunch at the office as they listened to professionals in the industry educate us on topics like Carbon Neutrality.

What new skills and knowledge did you gain through your Northstar internship?

This summer, I got to work on a wide variety of projects for both the Harvard University and BioMed Realty teams. I attended weekly meetings for my Harvard University projects, prepared Request for Proposals and Addendums, communicated with contractors and engineers, managed tests, and so much more. Being a part of many different projects required flexibility and great time management skills. It was intellectually stimulating but also challenging as you need to effectively allocate your time and energy to address the unique requirements of each project.

What career path are you looking to get into and why?

Reflecting on my internship with Northstar, project management is looking like the career path that I want to pursue in the future. Being a part of the BioMed Realty team and working on a project in construction made me excited and eager to see what the final product would look and feel like. As a result, it inspired me to want to choose a profession that continues to build that feeling of eagerness and excitement. There are so many different sectors in commercial real estate that you can focus on as a project manager, so I am excited to see where I end up.

How would you describe the Northstar culture?

Northstar’s culture is very family-oriented and something that I really appreciated. I felt like I could chat with anyone in the office regardless of their title or how long they had been with the company. In my first few weeks with Northstar, I was invited to go on a tour of a project Northstar completed for AEW and another for Sanofi. I also got to attend events outside of work with coworkers for industry associations they are a part of. Getting invited to do those things helped me get to know my coworkers outside of the office and made me feel like I belonged there this summer.