For Vinton, Iowa native, Sydney Bartling (Real Estate ’19), this project wasn’t entirely new. During her spring internship at Dominium, a Twin Cities-based affordable housing developer, Bartling was tasked with a case competition — propose a potential development deal to the organization’s partners.

The rules were fairly strict. No working together (there were a total of five interns competing) and no seeking help from the professional staff. Bartling alone needed to find a piece of land, analyze the market, rental rates and costs, and mock-up development and financing. At the end of the two-month period, Bartling also had to present the plan to a panel of expert judges.

Luckily, she had the experience. Through the real estate program at UNI’s business college, particularly the Advanced Cases Real Estate course taught by Dr. Art Cox, Bartling had already completed a similar project. The class pushes students to find land and propose real estate development deals.  

“It was very similar,” Bartling said. “I had just come from this intense class [in the fall], and I had a better understanding of what needed to be looked into. One of Dr. Art Cox’s points was your market analysis is the majority of the project because you have to prove the project could actually sustain this deal.”

Bartling won the competition, and when she asked what made her stand out, it was her in-depth analysis of the market — just what Cox recommended.

“We had to do everything and take everything into consideration,” Bartling said. “Of course they had their own templates, but a lot of the basis and understanding definitely came from the Advance Cases course.”

Bartling and a partner started working on making the deal happen before Bartling moved back to Iowa to start her full-time job in the summer. She says the real estate program gave her a foundational understanding of the business and a leg up in the professional world. Bartling now works as a support team coordinator with ProDash, a start-up company in Urbandale, Iowa.