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Real Estate: A Student's Journey - Matt DeGagne

Why I Chose Real Estate as My Concentration Picture: Matthew DeGagne Real estate has always held a certain fascination for me, and when I joined Wharton, I knew it was a field I wanted to...

Why I Chose Real Estate as My Concentration

matthew-degagne Picture: Matthew DeGagne

Real estate has always held a certain fascination for me, and when I joined Wharton, I knew it was a field I wanted to explore. During my freshman year, I attended the Zell-Lurie Real Estate Center's Spring Members Meeting, where I had the opportunity to hear from industry professionals and gain insight into the various disciplines within the field. The breadth of opportunities available in real estate, from finance and investing to development and design, intrigued me from the start. As I delved deeper into my concentration during my sophomore year, I took courses in real estate law and entrepreneurship, which provided me with a real-world context and a chance to learn from industry experts. This intersection of theory and practice, combined with the experiences shared by professionals and MBAs in these courses, solidified my decision to pursue real estate as my concentration.

Exploring Urban Fiscal Policy

One of the most captivating courses in my concentration was REAL 2300, Urban Fiscal Policy. Cross-listed with Business Economics and Public Policy and Finance, this course offered an economic perspective on the impact of social issues and government policies on land values and economic outcomes for cities and regional economies. We delved into discussions ranging from crime and education to economic drivers and employment, exploring how real estate development is intertwined with these factors. The professor's passion and deep knowledge, along with guest speakers from both government and industry, made it an exciting and engaging semester. This course remains my favorite throughout my time at Penn.

The First Course - A Leap into Real Estate Entrepreneurship

My journey into the real estate concentration began with REAL 3960: Real Estate Entrepreneurship. While this half-credit course provided me with exposure to different markets, asset classes, and focus areas within the industry, I believe a more foundational class would have been beneficial as a first course. Nonetheless, I had the opportunity to partner with an MBA student for weekly case analyses, and this collaboration allowed me to learn both inside and outside the classroom, benefiting from the experience of my partner. Moreover, this course provided me with a valuable mentor from the industry, with whom I still maintain contact today.

Advice for Aspiring Real Estate Students

To students considering a concentration in real estate, I strongly recommend taking advantage of the events organized by the Wharton Undergraduate Real Estate Club and the Zell-Lurie Real Estate Center. These groups offer incredible access to professionals from various disciplines within the real estate industry through lunches, career treks, speakers, and site visits. Participating in these activities will not only provide unique insights into the field but also build a valuable network and develop essential skills. I would also encourage aspiring students to consider taking either REAL 2090: Real Estate Investments or REAL 2040: Real Estate Law, as these courses offer valuable knowledge and skills that everyone can benefit from when navigating the real estate industry.

Second Concentration: Entrepreneurship and Urban Real Estate Development

In addition to my primary concentration in real estate, I am also pursuing a second concentration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation through the Management Department. This concentration has allowed me to develop frameworks to test ideas, provided an environment to launch a small business endeavor, and equipped me with the necessary experience to face the challenges that come with entrepreneurship. Furthermore, I am pursuing a University Minor in Urban Real Estate and Development through Wharton Real Estate and Penn's Urban Studies Department. This minor has given me a unique lens through which to analyze real estate projects, taking into account political and social issues. It has expanded my perspective and understanding of the field, providing a broader and deeper appreciation for urban development and city planning.

Embarking on a journey in real estate has been an enriching and fulfilling experience. Wharton's comprehensive curriculum, combined with the opportunities to engage with industry professionals, has given me a solid foundation and prepared me for a successful career in this dynamic field. Whether you're considering real estate as your concentration or simply want to explore the industry, I encourage you to take advantage of the diverse resources and networks available at Wharton. With dedication and passion, the opportunities in real estate are limitless.