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My University Co-op Experience by Jonah Turner

Over the past 17 weeks, my focus has been on expanding my knowledge in the realms of real estate and business in a broader context.  The journey has been immensely rewarding, equipping me not only with valuable insights that will help me in future years of schooling but also with skills that will undoubtedly shape my lifelong journey.  Prior to starting my work term at Turner Drake, I was unsure of what to expect.  I was welcomed in with a very friendly staff and even had my own designated workspace.

As some people may have put together by my last name (Turner), I am the grandson of Mike and Verna Turner and the nephew of my uncles Mark and Nigel Turner.  This lineage nurtured within me a curiosity about the real estate industry from an early age.  This curiosity was manifest during my middle school’s seventh grade “Take Your Kid to Work” day, when I chose to spend the day at Turner Drake rather than the customary classroom setting with my parents (both of whom are teachers). That experience left a memorable impression on me, and I returned home to share my enthusiasm for the very friendly staff and the interesting jobs they had me do.  From that moment, I knew that Turner Drake could be a potential future job for me.  Flash forward many years and I was applying for a summer co-op position at Turner Drake.

My work term at Turner Drake looked very different than that of other co-op students in the past.  In year’s past, co-op students were predominantly engaged in data processing tasks at Turner Drake however in 2023 the co-op format at Turner Drake was revamped to include access to multiple divisions of the firm.  As the guinea pig for the new program, I was rotated through Lasercad, Economic Intelligence, Valuation, Property Tax, and Data Processing. This unique structure provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the breadth of expertise within Turner Drake.

The progression of my summer was as follows:

– I began my summer working with Sarah in the Data Processing Division.  My responsibilities there included updating lease and sales information, as well as familiarizing myself with the various databases integral to Turner Drake’s operations.  This phase proved to be the bedrock of my summer, as concepts acquired under Sarah’s guidance were applicable across many different divisions.

– I then transitioned to the Economic Intelligence Unit where, under Colin’s guidance, I engaged in data extraction for market surveys and contributed to database updates.  This exposure not only deepened my understanding of report construction but also shed light on some of the sources of these critical data points.

– I then moved into the Valuation Division, where I worked with both Nigel and Austin.  In this division, I engaged in the assembly of documents showcasing comparable property sales and contributed to data collection for valuation reports.  This phase unveiled the determinants underlying property valuation, providing insights into the fundamental principles of property valuation.  This was a very interesting division to work in, as it allowed me to see what makes one property more valuable than another, as well as understanding some of the basic fundamentals of how to properly evaluate a property.

– My final stint was in the Property Tax Division, working with Mark.  My main focus there was on reviewing property assessments to determine if there were adequate grounds upon which to pursue an appeal, and then helping to formulate those arguments.  This experience not only allowed me to explore the realm of property taxation but also provided me with a unique perspective to recognize the disparities that frequently arise between a business’s tax responsibilities and the potential avenues for reducing costs.

My time at Turner Drake has been very beneficial for me, as it allowed me to not only gain work experience in a field I am interested in, but also provided me the opportunity to pick up a variety of new skills too.  I extend my sincere gratitude to the exceptional staff at Turner Drake for their inclusive environment, where my involvement went beyond that of a typical summer student, making me feel like an integral part of the team.  This sentiment was consistently evident, whether in staff meetings or casual lunches with team members.  With all that being said, this is definitely a place I would love to work at after I have finished my time at university.

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