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Rockwood Student Gains Real-World Real Estate Experience Through Project Interface

 A Rockwood student and her PIE business mentor smile at the mentor's officeSilvia Garcia Espinoza said she and her family moved fairly often when she was growing up.

This gave the rising Marquette High senior a number of opportunities to interact with real estate agents over the years.

“I always thought it seemed really interesting, what they did,” Garcia Espinoza said.

This summer, she received hands-on experience working with RE/MAX Realtor Gaby Marroquin, through the Rockwood Partners in Education (PIE) Project Interface program.

Project Interface is a unique summer internship opportunity that places students in a career area of their interest, providing them with career exploration opportunities while allowing them to gain practical real-world experience in a field of interest.

Marroquin, who is also a Rockwood parent, was eager to help Garcia Espinoza learn.

“I wish this type of program had been available for me when I was in high school,” Marroquin said. “It’s a great experience to share my knowledge and maybe help somebody to really know if this is something they’d want to pursue in the future.”

Marroquin made it her goal to expose Garcia Espinoza to all aspects of the real estate industry during their time together. That included meeting with buyers, connecting them with lenders, taking them through what to expect during the process, accompanying them to showings, then guiding them through making an offer and closing.

Or, as Marroquin puts it, “taking them from Point A through Point Z.” Garcia Espinoza showed she was a quick learner, especially during a particular open house.

“She saw how I was welcoming people and talking to people coming in,” Marroquin said. “There was a moment where I got really busy and had to take a phone call, and she just took the lead welcoming people. She’s definitely got the people skills. She’s not shy, which is one of the biggest things. You can’t be shy in this industry.”

Garcia Espinoza and Marroquin are both bilingual, fluent in English and Spanish.

Both said that was an important factor in building relationships, both between the two of them and with potential buyers.

“It definitely helped with being able to relate to her experiences,” Garcia Espinoza said. “Even with talking to clients, I hear their stories and I’m able to relate to them. That makes it more special.”

Project Interface students complete a custom-designed project developed by Project Interface program managers with input from the business partners. The project design is written to benefit both the student and the business partner. Students spend a minimum of 75 hours on their projects, including observation, research, meetings and interviews, then present their projects to their business mentors and Rockwood staff.

Marroquin, who was hosting a Project Interface intern for the first time this summer, enjoyed her experience and said she would love to continue her partnership with Rockwood.

Garcia Espinoza also said she benefited from her Project Interface experience, as she hopes to study business and marketing in college.

“This is an opportunity that I will never forget and that will follow me for the rest of my life. I will be able to apply these skills in other future jobs,” she said. “I’m really thankful for Rockwood and Gaby. They’ve been really amazing. Everyone deserves to have this opportunity.”

If you or your business is interested in hosting a Project Interface intern, visit the PIE webpage or contact Dixie Baker or Karrie Lehman.