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A semester in the life of CDUS’s very first interns

2021 marked the first year of USA Commercial Development’s (CDUS) formal internship program. We are so grateful for these interns’ commitment to our values and their dedication to help facilitate numerous tasks this semester. As the inaugural class returns back to their classrooms, we thought it would be fitting to learn and share more about their summer experience working with Skanska.

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1 / 7 Our Boston team enjoying a fun kayaking adventure.
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2 / 7 Our CDUS interns touring our Brookline High School project in Brookline, Massachusetts.
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3 / 7 All smiles at our Boston office.
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4 / 7 Jonathan Lopez repping Skanska’s iconic mug in his office.
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5 / 7 One of our interns is taking a jobsite tour.
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6 / 7 New merch for our CDUS interns.
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7 / 7 Elizabeth Walton at a Skanska groundbreaking in Houston.

Alexis is studying Real Estate and Entrepreneurship & Emerging Enterprises at Syracuse University and is expected to graduate in 2022. During her CDUS internship in Boston, her primary responsibilities included supporting the team in updating market comparable sales, researching local market data and with project specific tasks.

What did you learn from this internship that your college course could not teach you?

Learning financials and definitions in a classroom is quite different from the practical, day-to-day “language” that is used in the workforce. To understand commercial real estate (CRE), you need to learn the verbiage, which requires immersing yourself as much as possible in meetings and asking questions. In a meeting I had with Executive Vice President Russ DeMartino, he discussed how even if you think you know the language, until you are fully emersed in it, you cannot entirely understand it. After many notes (and google searches), I am beginning to overcome this “language barrier.”

What advice would you give to future interns participating in this program?

Try to learn as much as possible from your team, both in an academic sense and a personal sense. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—the team is extremely knowledgeable and is eager to help teach you. Also, get to know the team on a personal level. The Boston team continues to amaze me every day and has made coming into the office so enjoyable. Getting to know them has been one of the major highlights of my summer experience.

Jonathan is a recent graduate of University of California in Riverside, majoring in Economics. As a CDUS Los Angeles intern, Jonathan’s primary responsibilities involved identifying and analyzing multifamily development pathways which he developed into a white paper.

What was the biggest challenge you faced at this internship? How did you overcome it?

I entered this internship from a background that doesn’t necessarily fall under real estate. It was a bit of a learning curve becoming accustomed to terminology, procedures and projects. However, I made connections with different meetings, trainings and workshops to our team’s goal and Skanska’s four main values. By doing this, it helped me understand how all our work (indirectly or directly) supports horizontal and vertical teams across departments or companies entirely.

What advice would you give to future interns participating in this program?

Don’t feel intimidated when asking questions! Skanska and its global overarching operations may seem overwhelming at first, but the teams are open to interns asking questions and are encouraging in the process. During my informational interviews in the last six weeks, it was reassuring to know that I was not the only one whose career in real estate is non-traditional. Another tip that I would recommend is to stay up to date with ongoing news, events and activities related to the market that you are in.

Tony Tran is currently pursuing his Masters of Science in Real Estate at the University of Washington and is expected to graduate in 2022. His primary responsibilities while interning with the Seattle team mainly focused on the development process in its various stages. This included conducting a wide range of research and participation in vital meetings with key members of the project team.

What did you learn from this internship that your college course could not teach you?

This internship has given me invaluable insight into the creative solutions and forward-thinking leadership that members of the development team implement within each project cycle. While I have received incredible instruction from my college experience, I’ve gained critical thinking skills unique to development issues that aren’t replicable in an academic setting.

What advice would you give to future interns participating in this program?

Start with “why.” Write down Skanska’s purpose and put it on your workspace or somewhere you will see it every day. With each decision or interaction, think of how it might build a better society. Create a detailed log of tasks you can accomplish during your internship so that you can reflect on what you accomplished while you were a part of the team.


Thank you to all our interns across the country and within all our business units at Skanska.

If you or someone you know is interested in interning with our CDUS business unit next year, click here to learn more.

Last updated: 8/26/2021