From left to right: Shivam Mathur, Nina Zhao, and Jonathan Huck scoping out a housing project in the neighborhood.

ELDI is always happy to welcome fresh, young faces to our team. This year, Nina Zhao has been serving as our summer intern. Nina hails from Shenyang, China and is a double major in Statistics and Machine Learning and Decision Science at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). She got involved with ELDI through the Pittsburgh Summer Internship Program (PSIP), a collaborative program between startups and CMU.

Learn more about what she’s getting up to this summer with ELDI in our Q&A below.

Can you tell us about where you’re from and what you’re studying?

I’m from Shenyang, China. It’s a city in the Northeast part of China with very cold winters. I guess you can also say that I’m from Jacksonville, Florida, since I stayed there for four years of high school.

I have a double major in Statistics and Machine Learning and Decision Science. Decision Science is an interdisciplinary major combining statistics, economics, and psychology with a focus on understanding how people make decisions and how to possibly nudge their decisions.

I really like the idea behind Decision Science,  and we get to choose different concentrations. I’m planning on taking more classes on the business side like marketing, risk perception, and negotiation. I’m still thinking about my future career direction, but since I’m a statistics and machine learning major, I’m thinking more of the quantitative and data science side and real estate could be a possible direction.

As an intern at ELDI, what are you mainly helping with?

I work with Shivam and Jonathan and help with their projects. My work is largely research-based. Recently, I did research on regional and national construction companies, gathering information about their floorplans, prices, and scopes. I helped with ELDI’s projects in Larimer and reviewed the RFPs with the team, from which I learned a lot about the real estate development process. I also helped with paperwork regarding conservatorship and inheritance taxes. I attended meetings with the team and went for site visits.

What does an average day look like for you?

My work schedule is flexible, and it largely depends on meeting schedules for the day. I usually come into the office sometime between 11 am and 1 pm, and sometimes I take an early shift from 9 am to 1 am if the meeting starts early. I talk to my mentors about things I could help with and start my day of work. Since PSIP is a part-time internship program, I work for about four hours per day.

What’s your favorite thing about working at ELDI?

My favorite thing about ELDI is the chill and fun working vibe. We have a small crew and everyone knows each other pretty well. Everyone jokes around and is very friendly to each other. I love hearing stories and talking to people in the office.

What are you most excited to work on or develop at ELDI?

The thing that excites me the most is the opportunity to work in the real estate market in the United States. I always had an interest in real estate, but I acquired most of my knowledge from my dad in China, as he works in the real estate industry as well. I love going out for meetings and site visits, during which I get to meet some outstanding people in the industry and observe their work.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Working at ELDI is one of the greatest choices I’ve made. I think I made the right choice when choosing among a bunch of internships — it was a struggle but totally worth it!

➡ Meet more ELDI staff members