Connecting with a person who spends every day in an office with a view overlooking lower Manhattan might be a hard concept for an undergraduate student to grasp. However, this is not the case for the 23 students who attended the Wall Street Experience trip with Professor of Economics Pat McGuire and Associate Professor of Economics Jo Beth Mertens. “The students are not talking to someone with whom they do not share a connection,” says McGuire. “They share an undergraduate experience.”
During the two days spent in the nation’s financial center, students were given the opportunity to meet and network with alums working at high profile organizations such as Standard and Poor’s, HSBC Bank USA, Bloomberg, and York Capital. This year, at Brown Brother Harriman & Co., they met Stephen Bridgman P’10, senior vice president. At Markit Group, they talked with HWS Trustee Calvin “Chip” Carver ’81, executive vice president, Jennifer Crupnick ’10, account manager, Anna Darmiento ’09, business analyst, and Jessica Hill ’10, broker/trader. At Standard and Poor’s, the group met with Eric Hedman ’94, senior director. At DeWitt Stern Group Inc., they met Charles R. Johnson Jr. ’77, president and chief operating officer. At Bloomberg, Kristin McIver ’06, analytics representative, and Gretchen Sword ’06, west coast director, spoke with the group. At York Capital, partner Brooke Parish ’84 spoke with the students. While visiting HSBC Bank USA, students spoke with Greg Pierce ’85, executive vice president and treasurer, and Jason Merritt ’09, analyst. Finally at Citadel Securities, they heard from Craig Stine’81, managing director and head of financial institutions group, and Trevor Pieri ’08, analyst.
With each visit, students are able to explore the vast nature of a career on Wall Street. For some, it is the opportunity to ask questions about day to day life in a field of interest. For others, the alums might open doors to careers that they had not even considered.
Prior to the trip, Associate Professor of Economics Jo Beth Mertens teaches a short course that students must attend – a class that Mertens refers to as “Wall Street Boot Camp.” The class equips students with the basic concepts and terms they will hear often on the trip. “That course helped us a lot,” adds McGuire. “By the time we got to the city, students were comfortable to ask questions because they knew about the businesses we are visiting.”
The trip not only serves to introduce students to a life in finance, but it also introduces them to people who faced the same challenges during their undergraduate careers. “An alum working in a very high-ranking position can say, ‘I graduated from HWS, and I had trouble with this course and this subject,'” explains McGuire. “The students are put at ease by this and can openly talk about work – this happens at every place we visit.”
In the past, meetings with alums have resulted in internships, mentorships, and sometimes even jobs. “Students continue to be in contact with the alum even long after the trip is over,” remarks McGuire. Before embarking on the trip, students receive their own business cards that they can hand out to help create these lasting connections.
The trip is also a highlight of McGuire’s academic year. Having led the trip since the late-1980s, McGuire takes great joy in meeting with alums he taught. “I get to meet with my former students. I see them on their own turf; I can see and feel their success,” says McGuire. “Our students in the financial market have done so well. I am delighted they are so generous as to give back to the current students.”