FEI networking trip to New York City reaffirms bond between students and alumni

Last month a group of 16 highly motivated CMC students took part in the 13th annual networking trip to New York City co-sponsored by the Financial Economic Institute (FEI) and the Robert Day Scholars Program. 

The purpose of the trip is to provide students (13 sophomores and 3 juniors) with an opportunity to establish relationships with CMC alumni working in New York City while also learning about various job opportunities in the city’s financial markets. The ultimate goal is for these relationships to evolve into summer internships and full-time employment opportunities for CMC students.

“The 2016 New York Networking trip was a fantastic opportunity for students to engage with a broad range of firms, alumni and professionals representing diverse roles within financial services,” says Marisa Walter, Interim Director of External Relations for the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance. “We had an opportunity to meet with 16 firms in our four full days – January 11-14 – in New York.” Walter along with FEI Director, Professor Joshua Rosett, accompanied the CMCers to New York.

“Over the past 11 years this trip has offered students the opportunity to interview with wonderful firms in person and receive offers for internships and full-time opportunities,” Walter says.  “This year I believe there was amazing value. Students had the opportunity to meet with professionals focused on risk, research, investment banking, private banking, foreign exchange, private equity, asset management, technology, strategy and human capital consulting, trading, policy and non-profit work.”

In addition, students were able to ask questions of new analysts, associates, vice presidents and managing directors. They dined with alumni that have lived and worked in New York for years and attended an alumni reception sponsored by alumnus/trustee/parent Doug Peterson '80 P'14 P'15 where they met with alumni in New York on the top floor of a Manhattan hotel.

The dining with alumni feature of the trip called “Dine Around,” generated positive feedback from the students who were able to meet informally one-on-one with alumni outside the confines of the work environment.

“Personally, I think the highlight of the trip was having the opportunity to immerse myself within Manhattan's bustling culture, says Brian Landeros ‘18. “Given that we had to visit 4-5 firms per day, we had to be ready to go at 7 a.m. every morning to hop on the subway and ensure that we were on time to our first visit. This also happens to be the peak of rush hour for most New Yorkers, so there were times when I felt as if I was commuting to work myself. As someone who grew up on the West Coast, being able to experience this high energy firsthand really gave me a valuable sense of what it might be like to live and work in the city.”

Landeros, a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) major at CMC, believes that one of the chief values of the FEI Networking Trip valuable for students is that it helps them gain early exposure to various firms within the financial services industry. “It’s important to note that the trip consisted of mostly sophomores because recruiting for junior year summer internships begins in the fall,” he says. “Being able to meet with alumni in January gives students almost a full year to continue developing relationships and expanding their networks before applying to internships as early as September.”

For Amberish Chitre ’18, an Economics and Finance major, visiting Wells Fargo Investment Bank and hearing from a panel of analysts was a highpoint but hearing from Jon Weiss, Head of Wells Fargo Securities was the plum.

“Weiss spoke of the history of the financial services industry and how Wells Fargo fit into that history,” Chitre says. “He spoke about the financial crises and how that affected the way investment banks operated, how the collapse of major investment banks changed the way that larger banks were managed, and also how Wells Fargo has emerged through all of this as a success story.”

According to Chitre, the holistic nature of Weiss’ talk was especially appealing. “Hearing about day-to- day duties and challenges of analysts is valuable, but hearing from someone like the president of securities of a major financial institution is more insightful and exciting than directly applicable to what an analyst would be doing in his or her job. His discussion with the group really put into perspective what it meant to have worked in the financial services, particularly banking in such a turbulent time period. “

Chitre says he’ll work in investment banking this summer at a smaller firm and hopes to work at a larger one during his junior year summer. “The visit was extremely valuable because of the connections I made,” he says, “but more importantly for my understanding of the industry as a whole. Being able to talk about conversations I’ve had with people like Jon are probably going to pay me more dividends than having a perfect GPA or how many activities I have on my resume.”

Planning for the January FEI networking trip begins in early fall. According to Walter, the scheduling each year includes a number of puzzle pieces that must be meticulously fit together.

“Typically, we start by identifying where our resources are,” Walter says, “organizations that have affiliations with the college (who have hired from CMC previously and with whom we have recruiter connections) and firms where we have proactive alumni that help us to plan our visit.”

Walter herself has a many-faceted role to play on the networking trip. She’s a planner, line leader, etiquette guide, taskmaster, attendance taker, lunch provider, staff go-to person, and CMC professional representative. “These visits are exceedingly important for the work that I do throughout the year connecting employers and alumni with our students,” Walter says. “And the trips offer us the opportunity to showcase our wonderful students; hopefully bringing those sought-after east-coast employers closer to our small west-coast campus.”