Student Profile: Mission Oriented
Roj Robinson '11
Summer internship/post-SOM position: Goldman Sachs
I've always liked the idea of building things. This led me into engineering in college and eventually real estate law. But as I worked in New York at a couple of big firms, I found that what I really wanted to do was real estate business, not just the law side. I see real estate as a way to be involved in work that is exciting and interesting, but also has a social element. The right kind of buildings can help create a community. As I was trying to figure out how to transition to the business side of real estate, a number of people advised I consider business school, and I found that Yale SOM was a perfect match. Coming from a small town in Georgia, I really wanted a smaller school with a sense of community. And I was immediately attracted to SOM's mission.
Real estate isn't one of the biggest concentrations at SOM. But those who are interested in it are particularly dedicated and we form a really tight-knit community. We help each other out with contacts and job leads. Through the Real Estate Club, I participated in a case competition at the University of Texas, which was a great experience, as we got to know not only a lot of other students interested in real estate, but also practitioners who were there as judges.
When it came time to find a summer internship, I looked at developers, investors, and government agencies working in the real estate space. I eventually accepted an offer from Goldman Sachs to join their Urban Investment Group. It really struck me as the best of both worlds: a chance to work with some of the brightest people around, while doing work that had a real, positive impact on communities. The Urban Investment Group does double-bottom-line investing, meaning that in addition to seeking investments that make good economic sense, our investments are also socially responsible with a goal of revitalizing and improving underserved, urban areas. I worked on a number of great projects: green retro-fitting of low-income housing in New York; helping a large nonprofit set up a facility to finance charter schools; and restoring a housing project in New Orleans damaged during Katrina.
When I started at Goldman, I was nervous about how I would do. I had a background in law, but not finance. But I realized quickly how well SOM had prepared me, not just in terms of the hard skills necessary to put together deals, but the interpersonal skills you need to succeed in the business world. From the first day of orientation, we're forced to work in teams, take input from a variety of different people, and come up with a great final product. The fact that SOM is such a community-driven place made a real difference for me at Goldman.
Interviewed on February 1, 2011.