Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote to Russell Chain. It has been corrected to attribute the quote 'What I’ve noticed through my internship last year, I had the opportunity to network and have lunch with a lot of different people who know a lot more than me,' to Nick Phalen.
Junior finance major Nick Phalen spent his summer working as an intern for Zeller Real Estate in Chicago. This internship inspired him to start Ball State’s first commercial real estate club with junior business administration major Russell Chain.
“I noticed we didn’t have a program, and I thought, ‘I can’t be the only one that’s interested in this,’” Phalen, president of the club, said. “So, I reached out to Russell, and he was more than happy to come on board.”
Although the club is currently meeting over Zoom, Phalen hopes to hold safe, in-person meetings once a month during the spring 2021 semester.
“We’re going to be very focused on networking,” Phalen said. “We want to have a speaker come out and have it be a Q&A-type format so our members will be able to connect with this person and ask them questions.”
The club is mostly made up of students already involved in different business clubs or organizations. Jacob Kaufman, junior business management major, said club members have sent emails to Miller College of Business students and hope to encourage students from several different majors to join.
Junior business administration major Jenna Habisch said the club had a $300 budget approved by the Office of Student Life and used that budget for advertisements. She said the McKinley Avenue Agency developed a social media package to raise awareness about the club online.
Phalen wants the club to help members create job opportunities as well as develop professionally.
“What I’ve noticed through my internship last year, I had the opportunity to network and have lunch with a lot of different people who know a lot more than me,” he said. “What was really helpful about it was that you get to know them and ask them questions that you’re curious about, which is much better than looking it up on Google.”
Ball State does not have a real estate-specific program or major. Phalen said the closest program is the residential property management major but believes commercial real estate is broader than that.
“It’s not just property management. It’s also finance and acquisitions. It can be construction management [or] architects,” Phalen said. “It’s more all-encompassing.”
COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult for the club to meet in person, but Phalen hopes to hold a socially distanced meeting next semester.
“A lot of [our speakers] will probably have to be on a Zoom call anyway because they won’t be in Muncie but Chicago or other different cities,” Phalen said. “We would like to start being in person in the second semester. That would be much easier, but we have to do what’s safe.”