U.Va. hits Wall Street
Fourth-year Commerce students find Wall Street internships invaluable
Most college students look forward to summer vacation as a chance to escape from the stress of school, but as fourth-year Commerce students headed to work on Wall Street this summer, they knew they had their work cut out for them.
Working as interns in the sales and trading sector of the financial market, fourth-year Commerce students Andrew Colberg and Jake Davies woke before the sun rose so they could be in the office at 5:30 a.m., before the markets opened. There were, however, perks of an early wakeup call — getting off work at about 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. each day.
“[It] is more of a sprint than a marathon,” Davies said.
But to other students embarking on a life on Wall Street their summer was a marathon of more than 100-hour-workweeks.
A huge amount of information is thrown at interns working on Wall Street. Davies and Colberg both worked in teams that rotated every three weeks, learning about a number of the functions of capital markets.
With rows and rows of computers dominating the office layout, even the students’ work environment mirrored the fast-paced information flow that many associate with life on Wall Street.
“If you ever had a question while you were working on something, you literally pop your head over to someone sitting across from you to ask without even leaving your seat,” Colberg said.
Students said the hours were long, but that was befitting of the stereotypical Wall Street experience.
“I knew what I was getting myself into,” fourth-year Commerce student Jordan Fulton said. “It’s part of the industry, so I wasn’t going to complain about the hours.”
Intensive work weeks, though, were only one of the challenges of a summer in investment banking: unpredictable project deadlines often forced Fulton to cancel plans with friends at the last minute.
To make up for it, the students’ internships also offered social opportunities, whether that meant grabbing a quick cup of coffee in the afternoon or enjoying a “family dinner” with their team.
“Around 7 p.m. there is a kind of down time at all of the banks and so a good number of people on our team who weren’t busy would order dinner and eat together in a conference room,” fourth-year student Emily Brockway said.
But as economics-minded Wall Streeters are apt to say, the benefits of working in one of the leading financial markets in the world outweighed the costs. The challenging nature of the work, the opportunity to gain valuable experience, and the chance to spend a summer surrounded by smart, equally motivated coworkers all contributed to these students’ desire to work in investment banking and sales and trading this summer.
“Working on Wall Street teaches you how business works and what makes companies successful or unsuccessful, and that is knowledge that will benefit you for the rest of your professional life,” Colberg said.