Real Estate Alum Uses USD Experience to Land Job
Amir Atefi ’12 BBA
Be the one to show up and confidently speak to everyone in the room.
Even while a student at USD, Amir Atefi worked with his family’s general contracting business, Atlas Development, which was started in 2009. After working as an assistant project manager for two years, he began managing his own projects the summer before his senior year at USD for owners such as the city of San Diego, San Diego County, the California Department of Transportation, FEMA, the U.S. Navy, as well as some private clients. After he graduated, the projects he worked on were larger, more critical and much more technically complex.
In April 2012, he estimated and was awarded a sizeable project to renovate existing infrastructure for concession and retail spaces as well as to build out some new ones in both the Commuter Terminal and Terminal 1 for the San Diego Regional Airport Authority. He was the project manager, which meant that he was Atlas’ primary point of contact with the airport, as well as with numerous sub-contractors and suppliers.
"To keep my finger on the pulse of the project, I was on site every night from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. to direct the field construction," says Atefi. "I also worked during normal business hours to manage the business and office side of the project. My primary responsibilities were estimating, scheduling, change order negotiations, submittal review and field coordination."
In only four years, the family managed to create a startup construction firm run out of the living room into a multi-million dollar a year company that has become a force in the San Diego public contracting market. Because he had always been interested in pursuing a career in real estate finance, Atefi decided it was time to move on from the family business and create his own career from scratch.
"I had heard about Wells Fargo’s Commercial Real Estate Financial Analyst Program (FAP) when I was the chairman of the USD Real Estate Society and how Wells Fargo is the number one bank in commercial real estate," he recalls. "When I got an email from career services stating that they were hiring, I decided to send my resume. Before I knew it, I was being interviewed on campus, then put up in the Beverly Hilton Hotel, interviewed again in Century City and was offered a position at the West Los Angeles Institutional and Metro Markets Group office."
By networking with alumni and real estate professionals across the industry through the Real Estate Society and its Mentor Program, as well as by asking the staff at the Burnham-Moores Center to put him in touch with industry leaders, Atefi was able to get some insight into the world of real estate finance. His experience as a team member on the NAIOP University Case Challenge allowed him to speak about financial and real estate terms during interviews.
"It is crucial to get involved," he says. "You will only get out what you put in. I do not believe taking a few classes or showing up to Real Estate Society meetings for extra credit is going to cut it. Be the one to show up and confidently speak to everyone in the room and make sure they remember you. A lot of these activities go further than your GPA and internships because in the corporate world a lot of it is who you know, not what you know."