Before I started college, I had a very important conversation with my father. He told me, “You’ve done very well throughout school and have created an opportunity to go to a number of good schools. However, you will have to fund whatever choice you make.” And with that, my mindset and priorities totally changed. I needed to focus on finding a university that would provide me with the opportunity to get a good education and allow me to financially support myself.
Luckily for me, I found the University of Cincinnati. UC was just the opportunity that I was looking for because of their affordable in-state tuition and their widely praised co-op program. Through UC’s Engineering Co-Op program, I was able to gain real-world work experience while I earned a degree in Civil Engineering. In fact, the program allowed me to work for general contractors in Washington D.C., Dayton, and finally Phillips Edison & Company in Cincinnati!
It was during the UC Co-Op Fair in the fall of 2014 that I first ran into Danielle Brindisi, who was recruiting for a grocery-anchored shopping center owner she referred to as “PECO”. I have to admit that at first glance I didn’t see myself working in commercial real estate. However, as I learned more and more from Danielle about the Phillips Edison & Company Internship Program (PECOI), I was blown away by the prospects of working for a property owner and operator. PECO’s mantra, “think like an owner” is one that has stayed with me from my first co-op semester to now.
During my three semesters of co-oping in the Construction Department at PECO, I had a truly amazing experience. I was fortunate enough to be assigned to a ground-up project where I assisted in the construction of a new center. Due to a number of obstacles including numerous site relocations, the city permitting process and a project halt, I learned how to achieve success in unlikely circumstances. Not only did I learn a lot about the construction process -- and being part of a team -- but I learned even more about PECO’s culture. With a “work hard, play hard” mentality, PECO’s culture is fueled by many fun events for their associates including trips to Reds games, corn hole at summer picnics or volunteer events at Gorman Heritage Farm.
Halfway through my junior year in college, I had a few more important conversations with my father about my future. At this point, I was staring down graduation and trying to determine the best career path. I was fortunate enough to have a handful of terrific employment opportunities, and really needed advice. My father asked, “Which company will provide you with the most opportunities to succeed professionally and personally?” I reflected on all the one-on-one conversations I had with PECO leadership, the opportunities to travel, and the growth I’d experienced as a result of PECOI. My mind was easily made up!
I am now approaching a year of working as a full-time associate at PECO, and I can say that this has been one of my best choices. I could never have imagined I’d have the experiences and opportunities that I have been provided thus far. This year I participated in the Innovation Lab and helped create the shopping center of the future, The HIVE, and gave associates a tour of my first ground-up project during my first Annual Meeting. The advice my father gave me, the ample opportunities that UC provided me and my PECOI experience all led me to my career at PECO that continues to deliver new and exciting challenges.