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How Alumna Emily Day Became a Commercial Real Estate Developer at Just 22

When Emily Day graduated from JSerra Catholic High School in 2014, she had no inkling that she'd become one of the nation's youngest female commercial real estate developers just four years later. As the 22-year-old Acquisition Manager at Heslin Holdings, which specializes in the investment and development of commercial properties, Day spends her busy work day building a portfolio of value-add acquisitions and building strong tenant relationships.
Day didn't discover her passion for development until she interned at Heslin Holdings through an internship program set up by JSerra's Business Magnet Program. "I've always been entrepreneurially inclined, so I was eager to be a part of one of the first BMP classes at JSerra," said Day. "[BMP Director] Carol Chaffee really shaped the program and made sure we had opportunities to learn inside and outside of the classroom. My favorite class was Business Communications — it was a Shark Tank scenario where we had to write a full business plan and present it in front of judges."
"When I was a senior, we had a capstone project that required choosing an internship with a local company. I chose Heslin Holdings and never imagined that it would turn out to be my career. I started as a senior interning two hours a week. I ended up loving it!"
Every summer Day returned to Heslin to intern and slowly built a solid foundation learning all aspects of the business. The internship turned into five years of employment during which she had the opportunity to be a part of multiple development projects and gain valuable insight into the acquisitions process, including underwriting, leasing, entitlement, permits, and construction phases.
"I manned the front desk, then I managed everyone's projects. One summer I worked in Accounting, and the last two summers I worked in Acquisitions, which is where I am now. It's been a crazy ride and I've loved every minute of it," said Day.
Day graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Sociology, minor in History, and a Technology Management Program Certification with a focus on Accounting, Entrepreneurship, and Marketing. As a college student, she held multiple leadership positions, including Co-Chair of UCSB First (a student-run committee that works closely with the Office of Development), UCSB Board of Trustees, and various student philanthropy groups on campus.
Day is grateful and excited for the future. "I'm just going to continue to grow and learn, meet new people, and take my career to the next step," she said. "It's awesome that I've had that background in this business while I was interning so now I don't feel like I've had to play catch-up. I've hit my stride, which is great!"