Staff Writer at SAIS Europe
On October 21 and 22, nineteen SAIS students explored the world of finance in London, on a career trek, led by Meera Shankar, director of career services at SAIS Europe.
The trek visited some of the most recognizable firms in the financial services industry, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. The students met with SAIS alumni and their colleagues from these firms.
Over the course of these two meeting-packed days, they obtained answers to many career questions as well as knowledge about the day-to-day practical realities of working in finance. Additionally, they learned about individual firm culture and internal organization.
Simon Ilzhöfer, one student from the SAIS Europe contingent, asked a question pressing to most students on the trek: ”How does a SAIS graduate fit into the financial services industry, and what career opportunities are available to us?”
If SAIS alumni on the trek are any guide, SAIS graduates have carved out a strong niche for themselves in the area of credit risk, and several of the presentations focused on this particular division of the financial firms.
Students were appreciative of the efforts alumni and firms went to accommodate them on the trip.
SAIS Europe student Virgil Doyle particularly appreciated some of the firms’ efforts. He said, “JP Morgan in particular gave a great presentation and brought several professionals at different levels of seniority, and also gave us time to interact with them individually, helping us gain perspective on working at all levels.”
Students agreed that the career services office succeeded in helping the students make the most out of this visit in terms of the exposure to the finance sector.
Still, students did point out some areas of improvement that would help enhance the career trip for future students.
Nicky Harnik of SAIS Europe said, “It would have been great to speak with a network of recent SAIS graduates in London for an informal informational session to answer questions that the firms couldn’t.”
Doyle said, “The presence of more human resources professionals, like we had at RBS, would help us understand the different application processes in greater detail.”
However, these concerns were relatively minor in many students eyes, and even visits to smaller firms that wouldn’t immediately hire SAIS graduates, turned out to be valuable.
Ilzhöfer said, “These meetings helped us understand the kind of opportunities that would be available to us five years into our career and how we could branch out and specialize.”