Fostering Professionalism and General Career Competence in Young Potential and Aspiring Commercial Sales Practitioners, Russell Bernstein’s Internship Program
Russell Bernstein’s National Business Brokering Internship Program is a mentorship program that operates via Bernstein Properties, LLC in association with KW Commercial 889-9898 and The Bernstein Foundation and is designed to be both inclusive and transformative.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA July 16, 2019-- Russell Bernstein, full-time business broker and registered commercial real estate agent with the Commercial Division of the Keller Williams office in Metairie (Keller Williams Commercial 889-9898), started his nationwide business brokering internship in January of 2019 as one of many pursuits that line up with his tendency towards philanthropic activities. In Bernstein’s Internship Program, he can act as both a mentor and an inspiration to upcoming young professionals seeking to get a head-start in their business career goals before they enter the workforce.
The internship is carried out by interns from over 30 unique universities and more than 5 unique graduate programs, in several different time zones, and of a gender parity ratio ranging from 0.8 to 1.2. They perform flexible tasks remotely but still communicate with each other and Bernstein on a weekly basis.
The internship offers separate teams that represent the different facets involved in the business and commercial real estate industries as well as sub-teams further focused on specific types of careers and practices that hone skills that will be useful to the intern in the future no matter what career they eventually choose.
“This internship is very flexible in that YOU dictate your experience. If you solely want to perform quantitative and technical work, you may do so. On the other hand, if you would like to write analyses, interact with clients, and gain leadership experience by training others, this is also an option. [Russell] will help guide you along the way, but ultimately you are in control of your learning/internship experience.”
- Bryan Nguyen, Former Valuation Intern. Spring 2019, Student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Many of the interns who have worked for Bernstein commend the program for the variation of job experience that different sectors of a workplace could provide. The internship that Bernstein provides has four main teams.
There is a Marketing Team, geared towards interns whose talents rest in social media and email promotion, media production, and digital resource usage. Within the Marketing Team, there are sub-teams for interns to practice their skills with social media advertising, journalistic writing, and international publicity projects. This range of marketing tasks gives interns access to universal skills (language, writing, networking, communication) that will assist them in any future careers.
The other teams are the Valuation, Sales, and Management Teams.
The Valuation Team focuses on studies of Finance and Operations. Valuation intern, Xudan Zhao, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, joined the team to improve her ability to analyze financial data and make financial decisions. Despite the internship program being focused on business sales, she explained that she plans to use the experience she gained from the internship to assist her in a future career within the financial services industry.
Within the Sales Team, interns can work on coordinating meetings for Bernstein with potential referral partners and clients. Some even help with organizing events for specific listings. While Sales Interns are limited to coordinating meetings and events without a license (a limitation allowed by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission), “...even the ones who never intend to pursue a real estate license find the experience valuable for a future career in sales because of the way that “purifying” the sales experience with a single action - in this case, coordinating meetings - allows the interns to become more self-aware and lead their actions with more emotional intelligence,” says Bernstein.
Finally, the Management Team offers training and experience for a range of career interests, including Human Resources, Law, and Operations. For example, the Management Associate role’s listing description reading that the internship would be ideal for applicants “with strong interest in careers in leadership, senior-level management, human resources or operations” as well as serve applicants who are “considering careers in psychology and social work or leadership coaching”.
Depending on the applicants initial reason for applying for any of the teams, the intern has the opportunity to design their experience into one that best suits their career goals, because they are given the freedom to create tasks for themselves.
“I appreciate how flexible this internship is for people who work and study at the same time. The program is ideal for individuals who are interested in working with an international team with real-world time zones and cultural differences. Working and collaborating with other interns is very satisfying, and we help each other learn, whether it is about our specialties or with each others’ backgrounds.”
- Naomi Beirne, Former Marketing Intern & Japanese Language Specialist, Spring 2019, Student at San Jose State University
Bernstein’s internship is a virtual and remote internship, which refers to an internship that permits the interns to complete their work from anywhere that they reside via mobile forms of communication. For Bernstein’s internship in particular, the internship is conducted through weekly phone call meetings with Bernstein, collaborative projects that interns complete using video call meetings and mobile communication, and tasks created and completed by the independent interns. The style of the internship, therefore, allows for higher inclusivity than most internships.
For those with university internship policies that require visitation to a physical and commercial location, most interns already live, work, or attend school near a Keller Williams office. Brokers and Team Leaders usually welcome the opportunity for Bernstein’s interns to visit and use empty desk space in a friendly and inviting culture.
One of the criticisms for internships as a practice has been the lack of accessibility for students who have to do other activities, such as work jobs to support themselves. This is especially a concern in the case of unpaid internships, which many students simply cannot afford to spend their time doing despite the multiple other forms of sufficient compensation that it may award them. There is also the possible cost of simply reaching the internship that is a concern for these students when it is not remote. Commuting can become expensive when an intern has to be present at a physical location on a regular basis.
The internship is also made more inclusive regarding transportation as a virtual internship because it broadens the threshold for who can participate in the internship by facilitating interstate relationships. Russell’s current interns span across 3 different countries on 3 different continents. He has interns who are native speakers of 7 different languages. Culturally, interns are introduced to a variety of people from many backgrounds. Lastly, interns create their own tasks by making suggestions to Bernstein and develop their own internship experience. Interns also have the freedom to schedule deadlines for their tasks using their own discretion.
“As a valuation intern, I have had the precious opportunity to work on real live projects. Throughout the experience, I have been able to build a solid understanding of business valuation from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives. Russell has provided excellent training sessions that guide individuals each step along the way. Just recently, Russell has expanded his business field into large hotel and retail commercial development projects. It is challenging work for interns but also rewarding.”
- Thomas Zhao, Current Valuation Intern, Student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
An important consideration for any internship is the extent of the intern’s participation. The purpose of an internship is to introduce the intern to the functions and challenges of what they hope to make into their future careers by letting them experience what it is like to be a full employee early. To do this, the internship must permit the intern to have some independence in completing the work so that they may grow accustomed to it, and it also provides the intern with opportunities to be present when professionals are working.
For Bernstein’s business brokering internship, interns gain hands-on experience within the Sales Team by working with individual clients and listings with both direct supervision and guidance with moderate independence from Russell. Sales Intern, Luke Tobin, a senior at Loyola University, spoke on his experience working on the listing of “Black & Gold Wash & Fold”, a laundromat located in New Orleans. “I called hundreds of Laundromats inviting them to an event at BGWF”, he explained, “it was right before the Laundromat convention. Now I’m working on coordinating meetings with Russell and Laundromat owners who are interested in learning more about switching their laundromat’s name to Black & Gold Wash & Fold.”
Bernstein not only gives the interns authentic work of their own, but he also invites interns to accompany him and monitor him as he works. Like Tobin, Sales Team member and Louisiana State University student, Kenneth Stieffel, recounts a time when he got to directly experience Bernstein in action when he went to a small bar/restaurant to witness Russell at work, a meeting that Kenneth was successfully able to coordinate.
Recently, Bernstein was awarded the YPN Rising Star Award for his contributions that assist in elevating and expanding the Commercial Real Estate community. He does this through his internship program by having such a broad range of job types, but while still encouraging all of the interns, regardless of their current positions and interests, to consider a job within the commercial real estate industry and within the real estate industry in general.
For interns who decide to get a real estate license as they work with Bernstein, there are multiple benefits offered by Bernstein to assist the intern and encourage their persistence in the field. Especially relevant to the actions that the Sales and Marketing Teams perform, interns can start receiving payment for transactional activities that require licensing. And, upfront licensure expenses (such as the cost of the classes, exams, license registration fees, and memberships) are reimbursable to those who remain committed to and who are successful in the program.
The internship also offers all interns who complete the 90-day program a letter of recommendation from Bernstein as well as the chance to receive a scholarship or grant from The Bernstein Foundation for postgraduate degrees, designations, and certifications.
About Russell Bernstein
Russell Bernstein is a registered commercial real estate agent with esteemed real estate franchise, Keller Williams, named the #1 real estate franchise in the USA and the #1 training company of any size and type in the world. Bernstein is also a “business broker”, assisting clients with transactions involving the transfer of businesses and the real estate associated with them. Bernstein serves as a member of both the International Business Broker's Association (IBBA) and the Commercial Investment Division (CID). He is one of only 500 people in the USA with a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designation, and he further sets himself apart from others by also being a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS). Bernstein also has an MBA in Financial Decision Systems from Loyola Marymount University. For more information, visit www.russellbernstein.biz
About Bryan Nguyen, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Bryan Nguyen is a former Valuation Intern at KW Commercial 889-9898 with Russell Bernstein, CBI. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Investment Banking and Multinational Finance at the University of North Carolina, and plans to utilize this knowledge by pursuing a career in Investment Banking. He has consistently worked part-time alongside his coursework while also taking leadership roles in several student organizations. Bryan has gained experience from working a summer as a financial planning intern. Bryan further expanded his valuation and accounting understanding by participating in his University's Investment Banking Boot Camp. He secured a position on UNC's Investment Banking Resume Book. Bryan received a scholarship to attend UNC's Investment Banking Trek and met with 12 investment banks. Recently Bryan founded an organization called Ascend, with a goal to assist Pan-Asians on campus in their professional development and increase interest in the financial services.
About Xudan Zhao, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Xudan (Sherry) Zhao is a Valuation Intern for KW Commercial 889-9898 with Russell Bernstein, CBI. She is a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing her master’s degree in Financial Mathematics (STEM program) with a concentration in Accounting. She has interned as a financial planner in an insurance company, an auditor in PwC, and as a financial advisor in Guotai Jun’an Securities. While an undergraduate, she helped to create an early childhood science education start-up company with her peers, and plans to continue to enhance that start-up company as she advances in her career. Her goal is to secure a career in the financial services industry, working on analytics and valuation.
About Naomi Beirne, San Jose State University
Naomi Beirne is a former Marketing Intern & Japanese Language Specialist at KW Commercial 889-9898 with Russell Bernstein, CBI. She studies Japanese and Public Health as a student at San Jose State University. She is interested in the public and private sector on an international level. While attending university, she has experience working as a student research assistant, focusing on ESL teaching. She also maintains a leadership role, working on social media and marketing, for a cultural student organization. Her language skills include Japanese, Spanish, and American Sign Language, and she is expanding her knowledge to computer programming languages.
About Thomas Zhao, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Thomas Zhao is a Valuation Intern for KW Commercial 889-9898 with Russell Bernstein, CBI. He attends the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, where he is pursuing his masters studying Finance with concentrations in Real Estate & Data Analytics. As an undergraduate, he majored in Engineering, but went on to become an investment banking analyst after graduation.
About Luke Tobin, Loyola University
Luke Tobin is a Sales Intern at KW Commercial 889-9898 with Russell Bernstein, CBI. He attends Loyola University as a senior majoring in Marketing and minoring in Psychology. He chose to intern with Russell Bernstein and Keller Williams because of his interest in all subjects and work related to business. He is interested in continuing his education as a graduate student.
About Kenneth Stieffel, Louisiana State University
Kenneth Stieffel is a Sales Intern at KW Commercial 889-9898 with Russell Bernstein, CBI. He is currently pursuing his real estate license for the state of Louisiana. He is a student at Louisiana State University working towards his Bachelor of Science in Finance. As an undergraduate, Kenneth worked as a student videographer for the LSU football team. He joined Russell Bernstein’s team to gain skills for a future career as a real estate salesperson.
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