Drinking from a Firehose: My Internship with Skybox Datacenters
Coming into the summer of 2021, I was thrilled to start my internship with Skybox Datacenters. But from day one, two things caught me off guard. First, I was blown away with how much this team does. I was thrown into finance, marketing, acquisitions, development, and sales, all within my first week. I quickly learned to become a “jack of all trades” if you will, and being that my name is Jack, it seemed meant to be. It was a lot to learn, but I am so grateful to have gained experiences across a wide a variety of real estate activities. Secondly, I was surprised how much industry exposure I got in just a couple months’ time. I wasn’t just sending emails and shuffling papers; I got to shake hands with potential clients, tour datacenter facilities and set up groundbreaking ceremonies. My internship took me from Dallas to San Antonio to Chicago, and I think it was a far richer experience for that reason.
From a development standpoint, I had the opportunity to work with Haynes Strader, where I saw what it takes to be an industry-leading development firm in the data center space. While working with Haynes, I learned how to conduct market research and site selection as well as how to build out pro forma models for acquisitions of existing sites and new developments. While challenging to grasp initially, learning the details of acquiring existing space to be converted into a powered shell versus developing a greenfield site was new territory for me and came with challenges I wouldn’t have predicted. This component of my role was quite rewarding because I was able to learn what is takes to make a data center come to life, from conception to turnkey finish outs. Efficiency is the name of the game with Haynes: I’ve never seen someone use every two-minute increment in their day to cover a purchase sale agreement, eat lunch, review a pitch deck, and book the team’s travel to the next conference.
I also got to spend a significant amount of time working with Gordon Kellerman in sales and leasing. Prior to this summer, I had no idea the significance that sales efforts play into a project, but at the end of the day I learned everything comes down to attracting tenants and retaining continuous revenue streams. Through working alongside Gordon and even joining him for the 7x24 conference in San Antonio, I learned the value of creating positive relationships and understanding the needs of your clients, not to mention the level of detail it takes to build out a perfect a slide deck! As an added bonus, Gordon taught me how to expertly multitask by simultaneously taking conference calls, networking with prospects, and sinking putts on the golf course at a Skybox sponsored charity event.
I was also able to gain some impactful marketing experience working alongside Katie McJunkin, where I was able to assist with content creation and understand what it takes to build and manage a brand. On our trip to Chicago for the Skybox Chicago One groundbreaking ceremony I was impressed by the level of detail that was needed to bring the ceremony to life. Hosting potential clients, partners, and investors at the ceremony, preparing marketing materials, organizing a broadcast calendar, and how to care for children (Katie has two kids and expecting twins!) are just a few things Katie taught me.
Last, but certainly not least, I learned a ton sitting in on meetings with Rob Morris and Travis Young. The detail they use to execute tasks, how they maintain trustworthy relationships and their standard of operational excellence is unparalleled. It’s no surprise Skybox has grown and developed as it has with these two at the helm.
Overall, I have learned more about data centers than I could have ever imagined and gained valuable hands-on experience in a variety of areas this summer at Skybox. I am looking forward to finishing out the summer as there is still work to be done before I begin a master’s program this fall at SMU Cox School of Business. I could not have asked for a better transition to Dallas and am grateful to the Skybox team for their support and guidance throughout the summer!