Utkristaa Shrestha ’20 remembers the advice her mother once gave her: Don’t buy jewelry — invest in real estate. She spent this past summer learning how the professionals do exactly that.
Shrestha interned at RXR Realty, which manages $18 billion in commercial real estate properties and investments in New York City and throughout the Tri-state area. The junior economics major immersed herself in the workings of the company, doing lease analyses, evaluating assets, learning financial modeling, and assisting in the preparation of quarterly investment memos. She talked to construction managers on work sites about RXR’s commitment to maximizing a building’s commercial potential while preserving its historic integrity, and gained insight into how smart investments drive long-term success.
“RXR was like an extension of Clark for me,” Shrestha says. “If I didn’t understand a concept, people took the time to explain it to me and helped me understand how it connected to the bigger picture. They made me feel I added value to the company.”
Clark was key in providing Shrestha with a successful internship experience. She joined the ClarkCONNECT platform to connect with alumni for professional advice and career guidance.
“ClarkCONNECT really makes a difference,” she says. “When I send out that first message, I get great response because our alumni have joined to help Clark students and give them feedback.
“Getting an internship is only part of the battle,” she adds. “Building a network through the internship is really important.”
The Clark connection was strong at RXR. Scott Rechler ’89 is CEO and chairman, and Jason Barnett ’90, a Clark trustee, is vice chairman and general counsel. Barnett also served as Shrestha’s internship liaison.
“My supervisor said Jason had told him, ‘Take care of my Clarkie,’ ” she recalls with a laugh. “Jason made me feel welcome. It’s so great to meet another Clarkie who is so far along in his career but who also cares about what an intern is experiencing.”
Rechler stopped by Shrestha’s cubicle to inquire how she was faring and to swap Clark stories. “He took time out of his busy day not just to introduce himself but also to listen to me and have a conversation,” she says. “Scott and Jason both made me feel welcome, every step of the way.”
Shrestha’s interest in commercial real estate extends beyond her mother’s practical advice. She remembers how the addition of a second train station in her hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut, altered the town’s demographics by attracting young professionals and increased commercial and residential development beyond the downtown area. “It was amazing how that one change can affect a community,” she says. Her personal experience gave her added motivation to learn how RXR develops properties that are both commercially viable and respectful to local communities.
Outside of academics, Shrestha, whose brother Utsav ’18 is a fifth-year master’s candidate, is president of the Association of Martial Artists at Clark, where she and other students give seminars in self-defense while incorporating various disciplines (her specialties are Brazilian jiu jitsu and Thai kickboxing). “We go through scenarios, talk about what students are concerned with, give tips, and work to make sure you feel safe.” The goal, she says, is to teach basic techniques that can be learned regardless of any prior knowledge of martial arts.
With a friend, she also runs the Lotus Flower Project, which addresses issues surrounding mental health and raises money for research through events like poetry slams, open mic nights, and art shows.
Asked about her career aspirations, Utkristaa Shrestha doesn’t hesitate. “I have very big dreams,” she acknowledges. “At some point, I want to be a CEO of a company.” The experience at RXR, she notes, gave her exposure to a corporate culture where employees are respected and valued, something she seeks for her own professional future.
“My internship showed me I can enjoy the environment and work I’m doing,” she says. “Exploring different paths at RXR was eye-opening for me, and made me realize the possibilities out there.”
Editor’s note: Scott Rechler ’89 spoke at Reunion 2014 and was profiled in the spring 2014 Clark magazine.