Apartment Management Internship Through the Eyes of Jessica Harrington, HTM Junior

This summer I interned for AvalonBay Communities, a nationwide investment company specializing in residential apartment management. I really loved this internship! I increased the customer service skills that I love, there was a great work-life balance, and stable 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. hours, which I found missing from other job opportunities in the hospitality and tourism management major.

I found my AvalonBay internship at the virtual Isenberg Career Fair during Fall of 2020. While the fair is usually in person, due to COVID-19, the fair was held virtually and interviews were conducted via zoom. I knew I was interested in applying for the internship when I signed up for my virtual interview, and was interviewed by a UMass Alumni. While the process was pretty formal, I feel like the interviewer was very interested in hearing about my experiences here at UMass Amherst, and I was also able to get a better feel for the company’s expectations and environment. The interview was about 15 minutes long, and AvalonBay reached back out to me a few weeks later with the internship offer. The whole process was really easy, and AvalonBay, along with numerous other companies, attended the Isenberg Career Fair in search of UMass students specifically, as we have a great reputation.

Going into the internship, I wasn’t sure what to expect. This was my first exposure to the real estate industry, outside of hearing my mom talk about her job as a real estate appraiser, and Jeff Clark’s Principles of Real Estate class at UMass Amherst (two of the main reasons I became interested in real estate in the first place!). Professor Clark’s class is one of five required courses for the Real Estate Certificate program at UMass Amherst, which I am currently pursuing. Even if you aren’t interested in the certificate program, Professor Clarks intro class is super interesting and does a great job of giving students a broad overview of the different aspects of real estate.

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Bustling urban streets are visible from a balcony at University of Massachusetts student Jessie's internship
The balcony view from an Avalon Assembly Row Apartment

During my internship, I bounced between two AvalonBay communities during my internship: Avalon at Assembly Row and AVA Somerville, both located at Assembly Row — a vibrant and bustling neighborhood located less than ten minutes outside of Boston. As the only intern between these two apartment communities I was given ample opportunity to take on tasks myself, have personalized individual training, and really get to know the team I was working with. While being the only intern at these locations seemed daunting at first, I grew to like the increased responsibility and became really close with the five other office colleagues I worked with. In recent years, AvalonBay has been working to create small closely knit teams, which is exactly what I saw during my internship. While I may have been the only intern at Avalon’s two Somerville locations, I joined weekly intern networking calls where I got to interact with guest speakers and other interns throughout the Massachusetts properties, some of which were fellow UMass Amherst students I recognized from shared classes. This was great because it allowed me to have both personalized interactions with my onsite team members as well as interactions with other interns and AvalonBay associates from all over.

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A computer is visible on a desk at University of Massachusetts student Jessie's internship
My workstation at the AvalonBay offices

As a property management intern, I worked closely alongside my colleagues to respond to resident requests, lease apartments, and do other community tasks. While it can be described as an “office job”, with typical 9-5 hours and desk work, many of my tasks were completed outside of my desk and we often took outings outside of the office. One thing I loved most about the internship was the connections I was able to make with the residents; whether it was complete conversations or just a simple hello in the mornings. Not only did I interact with residents regularly, but also prospects and future residents. In addition to attending to current residents, I enjoyed being in the leasing role where I was able to answer questions about our community and help prospects choose the right fit for them here with Avalon. While much of my day-to-day work was routine, there was never a dull moment in the office and we were always dealing with new situations and surprises. This was great because it kept my job interesting, and I was constantly having to adjust for changing situations and different scenarios.

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University of Massachusetts student Jessie snaps a selfie at her property management internship
Taking a selfie in the bathroom at an AvalonBay property

When we weren’t hard at work at our desks, we tried our best to do COVID-safe events and outings together, and with the residents. We had countless group lunches for different celebrations and even a couple of COVID-safe resident events including a Dog Luau and Ice Cream Social.

Overall, getting to intern for AvalonBay was a great experience and really helped me get an idea of the residential property management side of the Real Estate industry. AvalonBay was a great company to work for, and I really enjoyed working with my team and gained a lot of knowledge from the internship. If you’re interested in customer service and sales, and are looking for a good work-life balance, this would be a great internship for the summer.  I wouldn’t have been able to obtain this internship without the Isenberg Career Fair. Whether you’re looking for a summer internship, winter program, or post-graduate position, UMass Amherst is there to help. AvalonBay comes to the Isenberg Career fair every fall to recruit, along with numerous other well respected companies in a variety of industries, so I highly recommend attending!

 

 

https://www.umass.edu/admissions/articles/internship-spotlight-avalonbay

By Dave Wells
Dave Wells Career Coach Dave Wells