Acquiring as much hands-on experience as possible
Joseph Weishaar ’03 is currently the Director of Asset Management at an affordable housing firm in NYC, whose interest was fuelled by various involvement with city development projects in his time at Beloit College.
Why did you choose to come to Beloit?
I was inspired by my sister’s personal experience attending a small liberal arts college in Indiana. After my visit to Beloit, I feel like it was a place where anyone could feel belonged and find themselves. Everyone seemed to interact with each other, and it was less cliquish than other places I visited. That was the reason why I chose Beloit College as the destination for my college experience.
What do you remember most about your freshman year?
I met and formed a strong bond with my international friends from all over the world from Japan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Senegal. They have taught me about different cultures and helped me see the world through a wider lens. I also got exposed to liberal arts education that showed me how to see the world from a broader perspective, which is valuable for my future growth.
What one piece of advice would you give to first-year students?
Beloit gives you the room and time to find yourself and figure out what you want to do with your life. Take advantage of that. The purpose of a liberal arts education is to provide you with a lens with which to view the world in a more educated way, not to give you direct practical knowledge to use in a career. You will have a much broader framework to view and understand the world than people majoring in specific topics. Having a well-rounded perspective to view and understand the world is an advantage, not a disadvantage. Because once you have a broader viewpoint, you have a unique perspective on the world, which people tend to value more long-term.
What are your majors and minors at Beloit? When did you declare each of these?
I declared a double major in Economics and International Relations and a minor in Political Science in my sophomore year. I chose to major in these fields to continue learning about social justice, which was my personal interest since my high school years. Before attending Beloit, I went to an all-boys Jesuit Catholic high school, which was very restrictive. However, my high school education has well instilled in me the importance of achieving equity and fairness in our current society.
Do you think that Beloit’s education has supported you to go in-depth with your field of interest?
Yes, definitely. I love all the Economics and International Relations (IR) courses that I took during my time at Beloit. With my IR courses, especially courses with Professor Beth Daugherty, I really got the chance to understand the broader world. Even though I am not currently working in the IR-related field, I do think that the skills and knowledge I obtained through my IR degree are beneficial for my growth and development. I remember that between my 2nd and 3rd year, I had to take intensive Spanish courses to fulfill the language requirements for the IR major. The reason why I had to take intensive courses was that I had not taken any foreign language classes by my sophomore year, and it would be challenging to squeeze language classes into my junior and senior schedules. So I went to Marid the summer after sophomore year to have my language trained by intensive Spanish courses. That was one of the most memorable times I remember from college. Regarding my Economics degree, I value all the opportunities that the department offers students to gain as much hands-on experience as possible while being at college.
What are some of your key milestones or achievements while at Beloit?
The achievement I am most proud of is nailing Professor Jeff Adams’s Quantitative Methods courses, which qualified me to co-manage Belmark the following year. I also remember my time interning at the Beloit Chamber of Commerce to aid with marketing their industrial recycling program and hosted a radio program through Beloit WBCR.
I enrolled in Professor Jeff Adams’s Community Redevelopment course, in which I found my interest in real estate. The Community Redevelopment course was designed to allow students to tour new development projects in and around Beloit. As part of the coursework, I authored a paper on the development of the Beloit Inn downtown that played a critical role in revitalizing the downtown area. I also conducted a consulting project for Pax World Funds, a socially responsible mutual fund company through Belmark. During that project, we hired 15-20 students to conduct phone interviews with the company’s existing clients to understand their customer base for demographic research. The Belmark experience helped me land my first job after graduation because the project I did, the Pax World, had done a good introduction to what my responsibilities would be while working at the consulting firm.
Thanks to my experience with Belmark, I was offered an opportunity with a Greenwich Associate consulting firm after graduation. I then returned to business school to transition to real estate. After graduate school, I worked as a financial analyst for a company that managed the single largest apartment complex in Manhattan, known as Stuyvesant Town. After two years, I left for my current job at L+M Development Partners, working in real estate private equity. We invest in affordable housing, primarily in New York City.