“I took off school to prioritize attending Explore — it was far more worthwhile than whatever I missed! And, my professors agreed! We stayed on 35th Street behind the Empire State Building in Manhattan. The first night, we all went to a restaurant — guys from chapters around the country, schools like Syracuse, Valparaiso, Toldeo, Colorado, and Ole Miss.
“These were outstanding brothers who reflected the Phi Psi spirit. We talked about the Fraternity’s history and things we learned in new member education. We immediately bonded. Friendships were born.
“There were different sections of the experience based on our interests: real estate design; finance and banking; construction management.
“We were tourists in New York City but looked at the skyline differently – from a perspective of how developments take shape. How does a building come to be? We discussed pre-construction considerations. We met with a general contractor. We learned the intricacies of how negotiations take place to complete a $340 million skyscraper renovation — from the involvement of property owners, architects, contractors, investors, and market data.
“Real estate brokers helped our group understand aspects of leasing for both commercial and residential properties; how ground leases work; how owners can lease to a construction company and how they can join together to pay for its completion, then sell spaces…
“We met with the Rockefeller Group and toured the renovation of an underground space they’ll lease out in the future.
“Phi Psi alumnus John Pierce lives across the Hudson River and was our main speaker. He provided an incredible tour of NYC buildings. He was very, very knowledgeable and shared every aspect of real estate. During our time together he explained important concepts about market data, demographics, trends, world economy, interest rates, and his observations about how the work-from-home culture will affect commercial construction. I learned so much firsthand!
“Following the first two days in the office and learning in a seminar format, we toured the top of the Empire State Building and visited various skyscrapers and parks. On the last day, we chose our concentrated track, whether that was more technical information on engineering permits and regulations, or market analysis, or architecture and actual construction and spent the day in an immersive setting.
“I went up in The Spiral, a just-completed skyscraper in Hudson Yards, Manhattan. It is over 1,000 feet tall with almost three million square feet on 66 floors. Its interior spaces are now being filled with tenants. We also toured the PENN2, a $330 million renovation of a former train station building that’s adjacent to Madison Square Garden.
“Phi Psi enabled me to visit New York City. It opened my eyes to what an interesting career real estate construction is. We all dream. Explore allowed me to see what the field is and can be, up close and personal.
“I also learned there will always be a need for construction in society and it is integral to building community. Explore opened my eyes to a world of possibilities and gifted me the keys to access it.
“The guys I met there, we’ve stayed connected to become a community across the nation, based on our professional interests. I’m grateful to the alumni who have made Explore a priority program within Phi Kappa Psi.”