Just some basic info on myself for perspective:
Nationality: American (South Asian)
GMAT: 660 (Q:46 V:35) (Retake will be on August 25th.)
GPA: 3.7 (Top 10 undergrad business program)
Work Ex: 16 months as an Investments Analyst (~30 months by Fall 2011)
EC: Lots of volunteer work (humans and animals, some teaching stuff too).
Columbia, Wharton, Northwestern, Harvard (from first to last choice). I'm planning on applying to Columbia and Wharton in R1 and Northwestern and Harvard in R2.
In terms of my work ex, I've been working for a multi-billion dollar real estate developer in the Persian Gulf. Even though my company is a real estate development firm, we operate like a P/E firm so I've been exposed to the P/E side of investments as well. Most of my work, however, deals with real estate development, asset/property management, real estate investments/finance...basically everything there is to see in real estate except for starting and managing your own real estate fund. I've worked on deals involving every type of asset class available in real estate (from undeveloped land to hotels), and I've worked on deals that range from 8-10 figures (in US Dollars).
Long story short, I've had exposure to some huge projects that you normally wouldn't get the chance to work on in the US or in Europe and I've worked on a variety of different types of asset classes and investments within real estate. My involvement on these deals is much greater than the average analyst, and it shows in my knowledge of the real estate industry in not just the Middle East, but in Europe, Asia, and the US. So even though my work ex is a little light, I've probably done more than my peers in the US have.
I know that I want to do real estate finance for the rest of my life, and I'm very familiar with the real estate finance program at Columbia. I plan on visiting Columbia next week on Monday, but I've been in talks with some CBS alums within the real estate industry. From what they've told me, it sounds like a great place to be if you want to do something in real estate. I've also heard very good things about Wharton's RE program, but I'm still doing my DD on the school.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read through my profile.