Interview with Katherine Scafuri (Baker Program – Class of 2016)

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Katherine Scafuri – Baker Program 2016 with fellow classmates

The Baker Program in Real Estate is known for its placement of students looking to further their careers in Real Estate. Katherine Scafuri (Baker Program class of 2016) wanted to create a space for herself in the niche world of luxury development, and she was able to do so by attending the Baker Program in real Estate.

Katherine started her journey at Wellesley College as an economics major, but midway through her degree she fell in love with historic architecture and city planning. This realization led her to switch to a degree in architecture. After graduating from Wellesley, Katherine’s first real exposure to the development practice was at Hill Harder Development, a boutique luxury developer in Cambridge, MA, specializing in the re-development of historic properties. While at Hill Harder, Katherine was involved in the redevelopment of a historic watch factory, the re-positioning and reconstruction of a historic site adjacent to the Mount Auburn cemetery, and the redevelopment of the oldest house in Harvard Square. After three years at Hill Harder, Katherine realized that if she really wanted to advance in her career, she would need more training. With the encouragement of her father, a Cornell alum, she decided to visit the Baker Program in Real Estate.

During Katherine’s visit to Cornell, she met with Professor Brad Olson who told her about Toll Brothers and the Baker program’s storied relationship with the company. Toll Brothers seemed like a dream job for Katherine. With Bob Toll supporting the program, and alumni scattered throughout the company, the Baker Program seemed like the perfect fit.  She knew that the courses would provide the training necessary for her to become a leader in a major development firm, and that the real estate network would help her land a job at a major developer.

While at Cornell, Katherine learned the fundamentals of institutional real estate. She particularly enjoyed Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Development, and Residential Development with Brad Olson.  The diverse curriculum of Real Estate courses helped to prepare Katherine as a leader in Real Estate, and to become more comfortable with the Real Estate interview process. The curriculum gave her the requisite training to excel at Workforce (a non profit organization on the west coast), where she served as a summer associate specializing in acquisitions, development, and finance.

Once the internship ended, and Katherine began to look for her full time job, it became apparent that her top choice was Toll Brothers.  At Cornell’s Annual Real Estate Conference in New York, she was able to meet several leaders of the Company. Through her persistence and several conversations , they encouraged her to follow up. She continued to prepare with the help and direction of career services and the professional staff in the Baker Office, and with their help she applied for and received the Toll Brothers Fellowship. The fellowship was a game changer as it enabled her to network with the organization and eventually land a job.

Katherine has been working with Toll Brothers for the last 4 months, and is a part of the rotational program, where one is required to acquire a diverse set of skills. She says that her experience at the Baker Program aided her transition at Toll in many ways. The Toll management model is similar to the one followed by the Baker Program, where one is exposed to various disciplines and challenged in a multitude of ways. Toll Brothers recognizes this, and thus keeps recruiting from Baker.

One of Katherine’s first projects involves her working on the largest master plan in New England, as well as working to help identify future opportunities for Toll. She is looking forward to a long and exciting career in luxury housing, and we can’t wait to see her succeed.

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