With slightly less than two weeks left until the end of my internship with the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market, I am using this blog post as an opportunity to reflect on the past two months. Overall, I must say that I had an absolutely fantastic time. Working as part of a small organization of capable people from diverse backgrounds (a general manager with extensive public management background, a project manager with a real estate background, a warehouse operations specialist, a broker-turned business development manager), I got to see the Market Redevelopment Project from many different angles. I was given a lot of responsibility from the start, providing ample opportunities for personal and professional development:
First of all, I was exposed to a wide spectrum of real estate activities. I worked closely with the Project Manager on important local government approvals and attended city council meetings, culminating in the city’s approval of a 60-year ground lease and a street vacation ordinance. I acquired a good insight into real estate finance by working on the development of cash flow projections and the applications for various government grants and tax credits. I was put in charge of devising the master schedule for the project, incorporating major leasing, financing, permits, design, and construction milestones. I helped to develop the Market’s standard lease agreements and CC&Rs. I was involved in the discussions and negotiations with a major tenant on the development of a built-to-suit facility that forms the first phase of the project.
Second, as part of the internship I got involved in several peripheral projects that gave me a better understanding of supply chains and logistics, especially for perishable products: I conducted a research project into cold storage facilities and the feasibility of such facilities in a multi-tenant wholesale/distribution environment. I also devised a logistics plan to help manage traffic both during the construction period and beyond.
Finally, I had the chance to experience the mode of operations of non-profit organizations first-hand: The work environment was very colloquial and often felt like working with family. I was welcomed from day one and immediately treated as an integral part of the organization. Ranks mean little in an environment like this. On the other hand, at times I felt a lack of decisiveness and urgency in how the project was administered.
In two weeks, I will have to say good-bye to the amazing team that I have had the chance to work with so closely. Throughout the summer, I acquired valuable professional skills and connections. And I made invaluable personal memories.
Philipp Wieland - 2012 SMIF Intern with the Center for Social Innovation, Stanford GSB