Brandeis International Business School

Industry Trek Insider: New York City finance

A firsthand account of visits to JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and more

New York City skyline

There are so many opportunities to take advantage of as a student at Brandeis International Business School.

In my case, the first major career development opportunity was the Industry Trek to New York City. Applications for the trek opened just weeks after the start of my first semester. After an understandably competitive application process (including video submissions), I was selected as one of the attendees from the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program. This is my tale of the trek.

Day 1: FinTech, Credit Suisse and more

If you don’t know about the International Business School’s Industry Treks, you should. Students travel to and spend several days in a major U.S. city, visiting companies in a particular industry and learning from and networking with people in that field. The best thing about it? Treks are paid for by the business school. All you have to do is show up and make the most of it. The New York City trek was focused on finance (which is where my career interests lie). It was a great way to kick-start my career development at Brandeis!

After arriving at our hotel near Times Square the night before, the morning of the first day involved a visit to a FinTech accelerator in the Flatiron District. This was an opportunity for our group to discover opportunities in finance that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. Like Boston, New York is a FinTech hub and we heard from several businesses at various stages of development — from a two-man shop developing immersive job experience simulations for students, to an AI company (Forward Lane) that practically took up a whole floor of the building. We had Q&A sessions with these companies, toured the building and then heard a longer interactive presentation from Forward Lane. This first morning of the trek was an unexpected highlight for me because I learned that there are a variety of businesses and business cultures within New York City’s financial industry. It was exciting and definitely set the pace for the rest of the trip.

Group of students at Credit Suisse

The afternoon consisted of a visit to the Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse and a talk/Q&A with Brandeis University alumnus David Klein ’02, co-founder and CEO of Common Bond. David shared his experience of starting his innovative student loan company, and gave insights into the challenges facing his business. David was impressed by the depth of questions put to him by our group. His responses to these questions made one thing crystal clear: he knew his business and industry like the back of his hand and could tell a very good story. This marriage of a forensic understanding of a company’s value proposition and an authentic and engaging presentation was a recurring attribute of the speakers at each of our visits. It’s also something I have been trying to develop ever since to bolster my career in finance. 

That evening was the first real chance I had to take a breath and reflect on my first trip to New York City. The company visits are intense; the research needed to make the most of it is arduous (including a lot of information coming at you fast in the first few weeks of the semester). My first impressions of the city surfaced that night over dinner with a few of my trek-mates: the city is loud and packed with interesting people and diverse opportunities. And I liked it all!

Day 2: JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs

The second and final day of the trek came with the most anticipation for our group: JP Morgan in the morning and Goldman Sachs in the afternoon. At JP Morgan on Madison Avenue, we enjoyed a talk/Q&A with the wonderful David Kelly, head of the Global Market Insights Strategy Team. David is a master at making very complicated macroeconomic topics accessible to regular people (or at least regular business school students). David is also a big deal — he is JP Morgan’s Chief Global Strategist. So it was really exciting for me to get his advice about an internship via LinkedIn a few months after our Industry Trek.

Even if I only understood about half of what David presented to us, the pristine boardroom setting at JP Morgan and the insights I gained that morning stayed with me throughout the academic year. I used the experience as motivation to focus on my academics and my career development.

Entrance to JP Morgan

After a subway ride downtown and a quick lunch, it was time for Goldman Sachs. Our visit consisted of a talk from an HR representative who gave us the lowdown on recruitment (basically: apply early and be exceptional!) and then an alumni panel Q&A, where most of the questions again focused on recruitment (my summary of the answers: be exceptional, be genuinely interested and be well-rounded). An impromptu visit to see the Goldman trading floor was the perfect way to end the trip. We all left inspired before breaking off into groups for dinner.

All of the company representatives and Brandeis alumni we met during the Industry Trek to New York City were genuinely warm and welcoming. For me, this was one of the most motivating takeaways from the trip. Yes, finance is a highly demanding and competitive industry. But so many of the people working in the industry are passionate about what they do and are quite generous if you share their passion too. My best advice to future Industry Trek participants: develop and nourish your interest in the industry beforehand by researching the companies and people that you will meet.

I decided to stay in New York for the weekend — what a city! The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chelsea Market and Brooklyn Bridge were my highlights. I am very grateful for the opportunity to visit so many companies. My first trip to NYC was unforgettable and definitely got my International Business School experience off to a bullish start!

Student Insights features blog posts and videos produced by current students and recent graduates of Brandeis International Business School. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author.

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