High School Students, Columbia University, US Colleges, College Admissions, College Applications, Varsity Football, Political Science and Government, Milano Market"> Podcast | Dominic-Perkaj-on-Columbia-University-Political-Science--Football--and-Milano-Market-e1cjn22


Episode Notes | Episode Transcript | AskTheGuest

 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)   2-Minute Listen

As a passionate member of the Columbia University Alumni, Dominic Perkaj looks back at his Undergraduate Experience in this podcast. Dominic Perkaj is a graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government.

Dominic’s story is one of passion combined with discipline. Dominic enjoyed playing Football for Columbia. He made a lot of lifelong friends playing football. But Dominic was also clear that he did not want to pursue football as a career. He worked hard in his classes.

He used summers to try out different options - one of which - Commercial Real Estate in NYC turned out to be his first job after graduation.

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. Overall Experience
  2. Why Columbia?
  3. Transition to Columbia
  4. Football Offseason
  5. Advice to Aspiring Students

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Dominic Perkaj on Columbia University: Political Science, Football, and Milano Market.

Episode summary introduction: Dominic grew up playing Football. He was in the National Honor Society. He was involved in community service in school. When time came for college, He was recruited to play football.

Dominic Perkaj is a graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government. As a passionate member of the Columbia University Alumni, Dominic shares his Undergraduate Experience.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • Choosing Columbia
  • Majoring in Political Science & Government
  • Varsity Football
  • Advice to Aspirants

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introduction to Dominic Perkaj, Columbia University [0:41]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:27]
  • Overall Experience [3:39]
  • Why Columbia? [4:42]
  • High School Interests [5:57]
  • Recruited to Play Football [7:50]
  • “Tough” Transition to Columbia [8:50]
  • “Intelligent” Peers [12:21]
  • Interesting Professors [14:17]
  • Balancing Football and Academics [16:22]
  • Campus Living [19:44]
  • Spring Football & Campus Activities [22:49]
  • Summers [25:20]
  • Why Major in PolSci and Government? [27:20]
  • Why Commercial Real Estate? [29:13]
  • Columbia’s Impact [30:14]
  • Columbia Redo [31:45]
  • Advice to Aspirants [33:49]
  • Memories: Milano Market [35:55]

Our Guest: Dominic Perkaj is a graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government. Dominic is currently pursuing an MBA at Columbia Business School- Columbia University.

Memorable Quote: “What are some of the things that you're doing that really make you stand out?” Dominic’s advice to Aspiring Students.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.


Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Dominic 0:14

I'm going to give a shout out to Milanos market, which is a deli real close by that has some of the best sandwiches in the city. I absolutely love it. And they are super supportive of all Columbia University students and Columbia athletics too. So that's that. That's it. That's a shameless plug for Milano Market, my favorite spot in the whole damn city.

Venkat  0:41  [Introduction to Dominic Perkaj, Columbia]

Dominic Perkaj is a graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government.

Dominic grew up playing Football.

He was in the National Honor Society.

He was involved in mandatory community service in school.

When time came for college, He was recruited to play football.

Venkat Raman  1:07

Dominic  joins us on our podcast to talk about his Columbia experience.

Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives,  Five Highlights from the podcast:

Dominic  1:27  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[Overall Experience]

Overall, it's been unbelievable. And that's why I'm you know, I'm back at Columbia for grad school for round two, because I absolutely loved my undergrad experience.

[Why Columbia?]

And ultimately, Columbia, you know, people say, you know, you kind of just have this feeling, you know what I mean, when you're making a decision, you have that internal feeling? I can't I had that when I came to Columbia and the city, I think, is what really pulled me in that direction.

[Transition to Columbia]

So the whole first year, you're basically just, you know, it was it was almost like you're wandering around the city and you're trying to get your bearings, but it's very difficult to and then the second year, you kind of really come into your own right, and you get a little more you get more comfortable with the city. And then obviously, third and fourth years, you know, you feel like a you know, you feel like a New Yorker.


[Football Offseason]

In the offseason, we were just working out a lot training. And during the offseason since we have more time. And we're not as focused on like watching film practicing and whatnot, we would pick up our Course load.

[Advice to Aspiring Students]

What are some of the things that you're doing that really make you stand out? Because test scores are given. Everybody has great test scores, and they need to even be considered for Columbia. Yeah, but it's what are you doing outside of that really?

Venkat Raman  2:47

These were the Hi5s, brought to you by College Matters. Alma Matters.

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Venkat Raman  2:58

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Dominic.

So without further ado, here is Dominic Perkaj!


Venkat Raman  3:07  

Okay, so let me welcome you to our podcast first. "College Matters Alma Matters.". I'm really looking forward to this conversation about your years at Columbia. So thanks for making the time.

Dominic  3:21  

Yeah, likewise, no, please not a problem. I'm always happy to speak about it for sure.

Venkat Raman  3:26  

Fabulous. So maybe we can start with some general impressions of your Columbia years. Looking back a little bit now. What were your overall thoughts?

Dominic  3:39  [Overall Experience]

Um, overall thoughts were that I absolutely loved it. Um, so I as a little bit of background I came from, I was born and raised in Michigan, in a suburb in Michigan. So coming out to a big city in New York City was a lot for me to take in initially.

But I think coming going to school and being in a big city like New York, from the ages of 18 to 22 are pivotal to your development and you see and experience things that you will not be able to see or experience anywhere else. So it was a lot to me to take it initially.

But overall, it's been unbelievable. And that's why I'm you know, I'm back at Columbia for grad school for round two, because I absolutely love my undergrad experience. I decided to really commit and go back to school there for my MBA, so. Okay,

Venkat Raman  4:33  

So, let's sort of go back and you mentioned growing up in Michigan. So, why did you choose Columbia?

Dominic  4:42  [Why Columbia?]

Yes. So I guess for me it came down to University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, and Columbia were like my three choices that I was really weighing between and ultimately, Columbia you know, people say You know, you kind of just have this feeling, you know what I mean, when you're making a decision, you have that internal feeling. I can't I had that when I came to Columbia and the city I think is what really pulled me in that direction.

Like I, I think you can't go wrong with any of these Ivy League institutions, they're all top tier institutions, you're going to learn a lot. You're gonna need amazing people, you're gonna get great exposure. But the city was a major differentiator, New York City is, you know, far in an above Philadelphia, no offense to any of the Philadelphia listeners, right. But I That's my opinion, honestly, there's just it's so vast, there's so much you can do so much. You can see. And then with regards to Brown, I mean, you know, it was locationally not I was it was not preferred, you know, being in Rhode Island. So yeah.

Venkat Raman  5:51  

Little bit about your high school. What were you like? I know, you were big into football and beyond. So tell us about that.

Dominic  5:57  [High School Interests]

Yeah, sure. So I went to an all boys Catholic High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, which is the suburb I grew up in, I played football in high school. I was at a Christian Brothers School. You know, a big component of schooling was kind of giving back to the community. So we had mandatory service hours that we had to deliver on yearly, which it was mandated, but it was actually a great thing. And I think that obviously, adds to the depth of your resume.

You know, as a part of the National Honor Society, I really pushed school, I really pushed school hard in the classroom, and was taking a lot of different honors classes, AP classes, you name it, especially in the later years, like junior and senior year. Sure.

But realistically, I mean, by the time you get to senior year, you know, you've already applied to a lot of these colleges, right? heard back from a lot of them. So, you know, they, they always say, you know, don't let off the gas, don't let off the gas, but you can relax a little bit, you can take a little bit of a breather senior year, right? Because I kind of fell into the trap of just pushing the envelopes way too hard. And my senior year was a very, very, very difficult one. And by far the most difficult year academically, I had school, and I don't necessarily, I don't think that's necessary.

But what else? I mean, yes, I mentioned the community service, I did play football in high school, and I ended up playing football in college to at Columbia University. So that was that that's obviously a huge piece of it, that that was a huge piece of it.

Venkat Raman  7:39  

Now, were you recruited as a football player, Or I mean to Columbia, or did you apply sort of the normal route?

Dominic  7:50  [Recruited to Play Football]

So I was recruited, I was recruited at Columbia at University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University as a football player. So the way that that kind of works is there's a what they call the band system. So there's a tiered system for recruiting. So you have to fall within a certain threshold with regards to your ACT/SAT scores and your GPA, or else, it's impossible for them to bring you in. So you still need to go through this process to get accepted by admissions. So the standards are very high academically, but it's the process is obviously a little, it's gonna be a little different than if you just applied straight up through admissions.

Venkat Raman  8:37  

Chosen Columbia, you show up there. You mentioned a little bit about coming from Michigan to New York City. Tell us about the transition to Columbia.

Dominic  8:50  [“Tough” Transition to Columbia]

Gosh, you know, the transition was taught that okay, because Colombia, I'm not sure if you've visited Colombia, by the way or have you? Yeah, okay. Yeah. So with Columbia, I mean, it's right at 100 and 16th Street, in between Broadway and Amsterdam avenues. And it's pretty much right in the middle of the island of Manhattan. So, you know, I kind of came here and it was, it was a lot. I was like, you know, to be honest, I was home sick as hell. It was a lot. It was tough to make the transition because I was playing football. You know, we had new student orientation class, the class load was difficult. So classes were tough. The city was really tough to get used to write everything you're looking at is just brand new. There was a ridiculous amount of stimulation occurring. Like you know, for the whole first year, pretty much. You're just overstimulated. There's so much going on. And it's so hard for you to even really, to really soak it all in that first year. So the whole first year, you're basically just, you know, it was it was almost like you're wandering around the city and you're trying to get your bearings, but it's very difficult to is in the second year, you kind of really come into the Your own right and you get a little more you get more comfortable with the city. And then obviously, third and fourth years, you know, you feel like a, you know, you feel like a New Yorker by then, because you've gotten enough, yeah, you got enough exposure to it that you're you're much more comfortable. But transition academically was difficult. The class load was definitely demanding. And at Columbia, we have a, we have a rigorous core schedule for, you know, freshmen and sophomores that they must partake in. So there are mandatory classes that you need to take, like, contemporary civilizations, literature, humanities, frontiers of science, and, and even we had to take an art class and a music class, and they're not your average art or music classes. You know, I ended up totally fit or not, right? I'll tell you, I'm not too proud to say this. But I got a B minus in another class. And, you know, I remember telling my parents I said cheese, I said, guys, I get this b minus, my mom said, Are you kidding me? She's gonna be minus in an art class. And I said, Mom, this is not your typical art class. I mean, the exams were really difficult, right? We were writing long papers on various forms of art. And to me, I mean, I was a suburb kid, you know, I grew up in Michigan, I mean, I had been to, I really hadn't been to any sort of museum, right? Really, to be honest with you, I mean, with the exception of a couple here and there, maybe when I went on vacations with my family, but so actually being able to, you know, take these novel ideas, these things that you haven't had much exposure to, and be able to dissect them in a way that actually makes sense. That's kind of that's really what the core is about. And the nice thing about it, though, too, is that it gives you a lot exposure to the city, you're forced to go to these, you're forced to go to these orchestras, right, you go to the Lincoln Center, right? You're watching performances, you are going to the map museum, you know, you're touching all these different points. So actually, it really forces you to kind of get out there and explore the city to which I thought was awesome. And that experience is something you'll never forget.

Venkat Raman  12:15  

What did you think of your classmates, your peers?

Dominic  12:21  [“Intelligent” Peers]

So my classmates, my peers? Well, I think overall, it's, you're obviously dealing with a very, very intelligent subset of people, right? Because the people that are getting into Columbia are going to be super hyper intelligent, right. And they're hyper competitive, too. That's the other thing. So academically, you know, a lot of the students, it's, there's this super competitive environment that you're in consistently. And sometimes it can be really stressful for some really, really stressful for some, but for the most part, you're dealing with super intelligent people. Right? And from a diversity perspective, you have, I think, some of the, you have probably the most diverse student body out there, right, at Columbia, in my opinion, right, from what I've seen in my classrooms. I mean, we had some of the wealthiest people, some of the poorest people, right, so when you look at like socio economic class, completely spread out, you have people from all sorts of different backgrounds all over the world. To me, that was extremely valuable. Again, being a suburb kid, you know, born and raised Michigan, coming out here and seeing people from, you know, I had a really good friend of mine from India, I had close friends from Pakistan, from China that were in my classes, and we're offering these really interesting viewpoints that I had never heard before. And I think that is crucial. That is really crucial. And, you know, Columbia really hangs their hat on having an ultra diverse, you know, students set and I think it benefits you to go to a school that that takes pride in that and that has a diverse group of individuals, you know.

Venkat Raman  14:12  

What did you think of the teaching, the professors, the classes?

Dominic  14:17  [Interesting Professors]

Now, the professors were interesting, you know, I mentioned earlier that I got this b minus in art. Yeah, right. And other classmates of mine, other peers, you know, friends that I had that, you know, were in different art classes with different professors. You know, they got A's, you know, they got a, they got a pluses, they said cheese, it was such an easy class. So, I think, really what it comes down to a lot, especially with the core classes, it's who your professor is. And I think with college in general, a lot of it just boils down to who your professor is, because a lot of the classes you're taking unless you're taking math or statistics and whatnot. The classes that are going to involve you writing papers that are more subjective Yeah, objective, yeah, it's gonna come down to the professor that you're dealing with and how difficult they are or are not. So for the most part, I mean, look at Columbia, you're dealing with professors with awesome track records that have done unbelievable amounts of research. And they really, and they've had unbelievable amounts of education backing them. But I think one thing that I experienced at least was that there were a few professors that had a serious language barrier. And that was mentally difficult. So in my art class, I had a teacher that had, I had a professor, I should say, that had a language barrier. She was a Chinese professor, extremely sharp, right. But there was a little bit of a language barrier there. And then with my economics class, and my principles of economics course, I had another professional professor that had a language barrier. And it makes things a little difficult, you know, so I, and I ran into that twice. But for the most part you're dealing with, I mean, sophisticated, well, rounded professors.

Venkat Raman  16:09  

You know, one thing I wanted to ask you - so you played football in college. So how did you balance that with the workload, the academic workload and stuff, tell us a little bit about that.

Dominic  16:22  [Balancing Football and Academics]

Um, that was difficult. You know, I couldn't, I think I was just kind of used to balancing it all. Because I played sports, you know, kind of my whole life. So I was trying to balancing it all, and having less time to actually get things done. But coming to college, the time commitment for football, right, specifically, and the time commitment for school was actually far, far greater than I ever was in high school.

You know, during the season, they were, you know, we're spending over 40 hours a week, you know, between trainings and watching film and games. So it was a lot. But I think realistically, if you're smart about your time, in college, you don't really have many commitments outside of school. You don't have many commitments. In this case, I was playing football too.

So I football and I had school were my two primary commitments that I was really focused on. You know, you're not worried about too much. So you have a lot of time, you really do have a lot of time. It's definitely it's doable, you can get the job done. No problem.

I think a lot of people kind of knock Columbia. And they say, Well, you know, Columbia, out of all the Ivy League schools, they call it like the most rigorous and the, you know, it's the most demanding, and there's the most workload associated with Columbia. And don't don't get me wrong there. There is a lot and it was not an easy, it was not an easy go around, and means. But with that said, there's definitely more than enough time for you to get done what you need to get done.

Venkat Raman  17:54  

Okay. What position did you play, by the way?

Dominic  17:59  

Um, so I actually ended up playing defensive tackle.

Venkat Raman  18:04  

Big guy. Yeah,

Dominic  18:06  

I ended up I ended up putting on a lot of weight I came in and I was like, 225 pounds to 25 to 27. And I ended up leaving college and I was pushing, you know, to 80, a little over 280. So I got pretty big in a short span of time.

Venkat Raman  18:28  

Well, yeah, while we're on the subject, you didn't, you didn't think of going professional or it was that sort of, still just a, I don't want to call it a hobby, you played varsity football. So you didn't think of it as a career?

Dominic  18:43  

Um, so I for a moment, I did actually, for a brief moment, I did potentially think of it as a career I had, you know, a good career at Columbia and played well, but to make it to the next level, and play professionally is extremely, extremely difficult. And coming from an Ivy League school, where we're not I mean, we're division one, double A right. Yeah, it's still I mean, it's good football. Don't get me wrong. It's competitive, solid football. But this is not it's not Alabama. Yeah. So it's really difficult to make that transition. And I thought about it, and I tried and I was training for it. And it didn't end up working out and then I switched gears and jumped straight into working.

Venkat Raman  19:31  

Okay, so let's come back to Columbia. Let's talk a little bit about the campus life. Maybe we can talk about the dorms and then for the social, cultural and other kinds of organizations,

Dominic  19:44  [Campus Living]

for sure. Um, so there are, you know, a host of dorms coming in as a freshman, you're going to stay at a dorm called Carmen. The vast majority of freshmen stay at Carmen. So it's an exclusively all freshmen dorm with the exception of the office. on each floor is going to be you know, upperclassmen. But you will have freshmen and Carmen and that's a really, really fun time because you get to meet all of your classmates. And you, you know, run up and down the stairwells between the floors, you're meeting the different classmates on various floors. And, you know, during New Student Orientation during the end soft, which is New Start student orientation program, at the beginning of the year, I mean, it's a lot of fun, unfortunately, because I was, Well, fortunately, or unfortunately, right, because I was playing football, I, and a lot of my training times contradicted with a lot of the shop events, I missed out on a lot of them. But unstop is like an awesome, awesome way to meet a lot of your classmates. And people end up you know, finding, finding other individuals that they're interested in, right, and they end up, you know, developing serious friendships with and living together, even in the future based on that, that first couple of weeks coming in, right. So for dorms, there are some dorms that are spread out a little further off campus to where there's a part of campus called EC, which is like East Campus, where the upperclassmen live, where you have some of the nicest dorms on the entire campus. And then the way that it operates is there's this bidding system. So if you're a senior, you get the most points. But there's a lottery system, I should say, right, there's a lotto system, if you're senior, you get the most points, juniors, and it kind of goes down in descending order. Yeah. And then you get associated a number, right as well. So all seniors go first, and then juniors, right? Isn't it's associated to that number. So that's how you can choose your housing. And some people have gotten like, the short end of the, of the straw, per se, and they, you know, honestly got a rough number, and they'd have to live in, you know, the less desirable dorms. But for the most part, I mean, look, all the dorms are safe. They're clean Columbia's on top of it. And I had a lot of fun. I mean, I was living with a group of seven total guys, that were some of my closest friends. And they were all guys that I played football with. And I lived at a place called Claremont. So it's great. It's 47. Claremont. It's right off Claremont Avenue. So it's a little further away from campus. And it was an unbelievable setup. I mean, we absolutely loved it. And we lived there for two years. And then our senior year, so freshman year Claremont two or I'm sorry, freshman year, Carmen, sophomore, junior year Claremont. And then senior year we went to EC, which was East Campus.

Venkat Raman  22:43  

What kind of activities on campus? I mean, I guess you didn't have much time for most of it.

Dominic  22:49  [Spring Football & Campus Activities]

Unfortunately, I did not. But there are a plethora of student organizations. You know, there are so so many student organizations, and they're all really great ways to kind of get involved. And to give back to the community. Some of them are more community geared, some of them are more Columbia College focus. So a lot of interesting things you can do on that end, right. There's definitely no shortage of things you can get involved with. I think the only thing I would tell some students, right, that are thinking about, you know, going to Colombia full time, right. And are not athletes, right? Yeah, they do have a lot of free time. I think you just have to be or they have more free time. Right? If they were just doing school, they just have to be careful to not overdo it. I think that that would be my one thing because I think it's easy to say, oh geez, you're looking around and say wow, these are some really cool group. I can meet some great people. Like let's start doing it. And the next thing you know, you're veering slightly over your head and really kind of taking a toll on

Venkat Raman  23:55  

That's true. So what did you do in the offseason? I mean, we How did you keep yourself occupied? Um,

Dominic  24:03  

So the offseason I you know, we were all pushing for internships. Okay, yeah, so worked in the offseason worked out with the team to on the evenings in the offseason like during the summer or when you say offseason you just mean you know...

Venkat Raman  24:20  

I just meant, meant your football offseason. I mean I'm assuming you guys in the second typically in the spring semesters who probably didn't play right?

Dominic  24:27  

Yeah, so when it was the football offseason I mean, we have spring ball so we have our season in the fall time. Okay summer fall time and then we have in the springtime we have spring football spring ball. Oh you do? We do. It's for a condensed period of time though. You know, it's only it's a little what is it? A little maybe a month of football. Contact practice. In the offseason we were just working out a lot training and during the offseason since we have more time and we're not as focused on like watching film practicing alone. but not, we would pick up our course load. So we would lift our credits up so that during the season our credits, we could lower bring our credits down to a more manageable number.

Venkat Raman  25:13  

Okay, so let's let's sort of talk summers and internship, then what? How did your different summers go?

Dominic  25:20  [Summers]

Yeah, so the summers went well, um, I think Columbia has a great in, they have great enrichment services, they really do. And there are a lot of resources that are offered to you as a student. And what it really comes down to though these resources are offered to you. They're not just, you know, people, these people are not going out of their way to say, hey, Venkat, you know, I, I see your student and you're looking for this internship, you know, I'm gonna give you this job. I mean, it's not right. And it's really not that simple anywhere. And I think some students, especially at Columbia, they got a little you know, that they had this illusion going on in their, in their mind that they were just, oh, you know, they're their Columbia student, you know, they can get whatever job they want. And I know, New York, Columbia is a great school. Don't get me wrong. I mean, I absolutely loved it. And I think it's a tremendous institution, academically. But yeah, New York City is a beast of its own. It's hyper hyper competitive, right? It's difficult to get internships and it's difficult to get jobs. So it's, the students need to take the onus and they need to take the onus and actually reach out. So there are a lot of resources, right. We have a bunch of different resources with regards to internships and like job postings as well, through our through our enrichment program, which is super beneficial. There are a lot of alumni that you can connect with that are usually very helpful and more than willing to speak.

So for me, it was sophomore year, freshman year, I went actually back home to Michigan after freshman year ended for the summer, and then sophomore year, I got an internship at a nonprofit called Kids in the game isn't junior year, I got an internship at a commercial real estate services firm called CBRE. And then after senior year, I jumped straight into commercial real estate full time.

Venkat Raman  27:14  

Let's talk a little bit about your major, how you ended up picking Political Science & Government?

Dominic  27:20  [Why Major in PolSci and Government?]

Yes, um, so, you know, Columbia gives you a little bit of time in that first year, to get your bearings, you're taking all the core classes, you're meeting other classmates, right, and you have some time to kind of let this whole idea of what major you want going forward to kind of soak in. And for me, I was really focused on taking classes that I was genuinely interested in, and what I was genuinely interested in at the time, and I continue to be it was politics. And I was interested in political science. And then I was interested in psychology too. And I ended up ultimately majoring in political science and going that route.

And I am a big believer still, and I was then and I still am now that you know, your major does not define you and it doesn't pigeonhole you, you know, into not being able to get other opportunities. Sure, right. So because some people say, Oh, geez, I can't get, I can't do political science major, because then I'm never gonna be able to go into banking, or I'm not gonna be able to do XYZ. And that's just not the case. I mean, it, it may be a little more difficult, right? If you're not an econ major, or an accounting major to go to some of these places, right, or to do some of these jobs that are outside of that specific realm. But it's by no means impossible, and you should not feel pigeon holed by it.

So I genuinely, I took the approach that, hey, I want to take classes that I'm genuinely interested in, which will make my life and my overall experience at Columbia more enjoyable. And I will make studying and putting together the deliverables for these classes much easier to because I actually enjoy doing.

Venkat Raman  28:57  

Now that's a good point. I mean, major doesn't equal equal career is sort of a good, good phrase to use.

Venkat Raman  29:10  

Why commercial real estate? How did that happen?

Dominic  29:13  [Why Commercial Real Estate?]

So I There are actually two Columbia alumni that I know really well. And I've formed good relationships with over the years that are in commercial real estate. And I met with them I spoken with them. And there's something about New York City, right when you look at the skyline. It's just a beautiful thing, right? Yeah. Look, human beings created that right? over how many years and I would love to have, you know, to have a say in some of that right? And to leave a leave an impression there. So that's kind of what initially made me gravitate towards commercial real estate. And then I had this internship my junior year and I absolutely loved it. And I said, You know what, let's jump into this full time.

Venkat Raman  30:03  

Okay, so that kind of leads me to the next point, which is, how do you think your years at Columbia have shaped what you've done post college?

Dominic  30:14  [Columbia’s Impact]

Wow. So my years at Columbia I think they were really pivotal to me getting the ultimately to me getting the opportunity that I have. Now, right. Right now I'm working at a commercial real estate technology firm. My previous role was, you know, in a commercial, I was a commercial real estate brokerage professional. And my experience at Columbia was pivotal to me getting these opportunities, the people that I met at Columbia, were extremely important to me and continue to be super important to me, and I continue to learn so much from them, and to develop those relationships.

So it's been definitely very, very, very valuable to me, and I've been a guy that, you know, I guess my approach is always to, you know, make the most out of all your situations, and to always be grateful for what you have. So with that mentality, I was always big on any resource that I knew about that was being given to me, right that I was going to have access to, I made sure to capitalize on it, because not capitalizing on any of the resources that they let you know about is doing a complete disservice to you, and you will not get the full exposure or the full experience that you're looking to get out of Colombia.

Venkat Raman  31:35  

If you could redo those four years ago, back in time, and would you take a different route? Would you do anything differently? Would you not play football? Or? You know,

Dominic  31:45  [Columbia Redo]

that's a good question. I definitely, definitely would still play football. Because I loved it. And I have some of my closest friends on the planet I've made through the game. And through my years at Columbia, but I think what would I do differently? I think I really am not a guy that ever likes to look back. And that's right. But the questions forcing me to do so.

And I think one thing I would do a little differently is I think it would be to try to get more involved with some of the student organizations, some of the different groups, because I felt like I kind of had my head down a lot with football between football and school, I really had my head down. And I was just hyper focused on football in school. And I wasn't as involved as I would have liked to be. And I wasn't meeting as many students that were not playing football, that were just students at Columbia as I would have liked to. So I think that's the one thing that I think I would have tried to find, to find some sort of adjustment there.

Venkat Raman  32:49  

I mean, I think that's a great point, actually. And I find, usually, people talk about just something like that, which is I wish I was more involved. I wish I had met more people. I wish I had done this, that and the other mostly around there not so much as regrets, like you say, he said, I, I think it's more around, having gone through it. You don't know what you're, you know, it's the first time this looking back, you say I wish I'd done this, that or the other. But anyway, there's no going back. So let's go forward.

Venkat Raman  33:28  

What would you tell these aspiring students about applying to college, going to Columbia? What would your advice be?

Dominic  33:39  [Advice to Aspirants]

Okay, so I think it's a stressful time for a lot of students. And I completely get it, you know, between the ACT and SAT and the college essays and this and that. I mean, there's so many things that go into it. But I think the important thing that you need to focus on for Columbia, and I speak to Columbia specifically, is that there there has to be a differentiator. You know, it's really putting together the essays is really about telling a story on why you deserve to be at Columbia, and what value you're going to kind of what, what kind of value you're going to bring to Columbia, right. And the value could simply be that, hey, I went through this particular experience in my life, and it's completely shaped the way I do things moving forward. And I think that it's going to bring value to my classmates at Columbia moving forward for them to actually see my perspective, or hear my perspective on things. But I think really, it comes down to telling a good story. Everybody has great test scores. Really, everybody has great test scores that you know, you're competing with the top top tier students across the entire world that are applying to Columbia and other schools like Columbia, but I feel like the differentiators are what are you doing on the side? You know instrument. Are you involved in, you know, any charity work? Are you giving back to your community? Right? Like, what are some of the things that you're doing that really make you stand out? Because test scores are given? Everybody has great test scores, and they need to even be considered for Columbia. Yeah, but it's what are you doing outside of that? Really? I think that's the important piece. And how are you telling, How are you conveying that story in a way that is going to be the most powerful for the admissions officers that are reviewing your essays?

Venkat Raman  35:33  

Okay, so Dominic, we're nearing the end of our podcast. Before we sign off here. Just wanted to give you a chance to talk about any happy memories and tradition at Columbia or anything that we might not have touched on. Something that you think listeners might be interested in.

Dominic  35:55  [Memories: Milano Market]

Hmm, you know, I think, what do I want to touch on here? You know, let's just mention, I'm going to give a shout out to Milanos market, which is a deli real close by that has some of the best sandwiches in the city. I absolutely love it. And they are super supportive of all Columbia University students and Columbia athletics too. So that's that that's that's a shameless plug for Milano marketing, my favorite spot in the whole damn city. So that's a good memory. Unfortunately, now that I'm going back to school, right at Columbia for my MBA, I stopped by there, you know, once a week here and there. But what what else, I think, I mean, you have a lot of memories in the library, honestly, a lot, a lot of solid memories in the library. In Butler library, which is such a beautiful library, it's like the campus is gorgeous, you know, I love the campus. And it's one of those things where it never really gets old. You know, it's like this little oasis in the middle of the city. And you look around, you know, if you're on college walk, and you look around at low library and Butler library on either side of you. Right, right, right on either side of 100/16 Street. And it just makes you grateful, because a lot of unbelievable people have come and gone through Colombia, and to be one, you know, it feels pretty awesome. I guess that's like, that's my those are kind of like, my memories. You know, as far as traditions go, I mean, Colombia has a bunch, they have the Colombia fight song and learning a little bit about the history of Colombia is actually quite, quite interesting, which I'm sure you know, as students come in, they'll definitely pick up on some of it. Because it has definitely has super rich history. But that's pretty much it.

Venkat Raman  37:40  

Fantastic. So Dominic, let me thank you for your time. The generosity in terms of information and detail, and sharing these personal stories and share that aspiring students all over would appreciate it. So thank you again. And we'll talk some more later on in the future. But for now, take care be safe. And good luck with your MBA.

Dominic  38:05  

Thank you, Venkat. I really appreciate it. Thanks for the opportunity.

Venkat Raman  38:09  

Sure thing. Take care.

Dominic  38:10  

All right, bye, bye.


Venkat  38:17  [Close]

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Dominic Perkaj about Columbia University.

This is a story of a New-bie who becomes a New Yorker!

There is more, of course.

Dominic’s story is one of passion combined with discipline.

Dominic enjoyed playing Football for Columbia. He made a lot of lifelong friends playing football. He got to enjoy the sandwiches at Milano Market.

But Dominic was also clear that he did not want to pursue football as a career.

He worked hard in his classes.

He used summers to try out different options - one of which - Commercial Real Estate in NYC turned out to be his first job after graduation.

I hope Dominic’s experience motivates you to dig deeper into Columbia University.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io].

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

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