Josh was in Laura McDonough’s office the other day and told me he’d traveled to New York to meet with representatives of Goldman Sacks and Lehman Brothers. I asked him to write a travelogue for me so students could see what you need to be willing to do and go through to secure a job on Wall Street. It’s safe to say Josh has some connections that opened doors most people may not get a chance to knock, but he’s willing to share what he learned on the inside. What I liked about his story is that he spent the day as the “interviewer” not expecting to be the “interviewee.” How many informational interviews (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Informational_interview) did you do this summer?
New York City, the city of $1 pizza on every corner and quite possibly the best place to be if you’re in the financial world. For those of you who have never been, this place is nothing like anything you could ever imagine. Street after street of apartment buildings, skyscrapers, museums, subways, and most importantly of all, the immense number of people going about their daily lives in the city that never sleeps. As someone who was raised on little Marco Island, Florida, you could easily say that I was out of my element.
I’ve always personally believed that if you want something in life you have to work your butt off to get it. In a sense this is how I was able to get this opportunity to visit the Big Apple and talk to some very respectable people in financial firms such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. Last spring semester I made a point of reaching out to everyone in my professional network in order to get some perspective of the many different fields of business and try to get some grasp of what I want to do with my life after college. After getting a lot of feedback and advice from peers in their respective fields I set my sights on the financial field and turned to my family for advice on how to proceed. My step-dad mentioned to me that some of his past fraternity brothers had done rather well on Wall Street and that he would send out some lines to see if he could help setup a trip to New York City for me to get a firsthand look at Wall Street and the financial epicenter that is New York City. I would say it was luck, but after a week or so of corresponding and ironing out details my flight was booked and my trip was set in stone.
The weeks seemed to get slower and slower as my trip loomed closer and the anticipation of visiting NYC for the first time made it an excruciating wait, but eventually the day had arrived. After a very uncomfortable 3 hour flight on JetBlue (don’t fly JetBlue) I arrived at JFK Airport and immediately jumped into an Uber headed for the city. After dropping off my bag at the place I was staying, I spent the whole day exploring the Big Apple. Visiting Central Park, the Empire State Building, Ground Zero, One World Trade Center, Times Square, and 3 or 4 places that claimed to have the best pizza in NYC made my first day there seem to go by in hours. Little did I know that my second day there was the real eye opening experience of the trip.
6:00am the next morning I’m outside waiting for what I thought was just going to be an Uber or Taxi to give me a ride to Goldman Sachs. Boy was I wrong. A blacked out escalade pulls up and the chauffeur rolls down the window, asks my name, then tells me to get in the back seat. After a very hectic NYC drive, I was dropped off in front of the 46 story Goldman Sachs building where I met Paul Huchro, my stepdads fraternity brother who would be showing me around and basically answering any questions I could think of. Some background on Mr. Huchro, he is Goldman Sachs head broker in charge of a team of over 100 brokers and from what I could tell one of the smartest men I’ve ever met. After walking me through security (fingerprints, picture, signatures, nametags) we made our way up to his office and the trading floors. When I say trading floors, imagine 3 whole floors of hundreds of people and computers trading asset worth millions of dollars every second. I spent the next 5 hours meeting a handful of different people that worked there and getting there story of how they made it to where they were and any advice I could squeeze from them. At the end of my time at Goldman, I was lucky enough to sit down with Mr. Huchro and discuss how I can best achieve my goals and aspirations. On my way out of Goldman he said one last thing to me that really shook my world, “At the end of the day it’s not the grades you make, but the hands you shake” which to me means that grades are really important, but at the end of the day you have to go out there yourself and achieve your goals.
With Mr. Huchro’s last comment still bouncing around my brain I got an Uber and made my way to Lehman Brothers, which if you are a business major you will know was one of the main causes of the 2008 Financial Crisis/Housing Bubble Burst. Upon arrival I was met by another one of my stepdad’s fraternity brothers, Dave Pauker, who is the current stand in CEO of Lehman Brothers until the company fully recovers from the 2008 crisis. After going through another very strict security Mr. Pauker brought me upstairs to the main boardroom, sat me down, and basically did a soft interview with me to get an idea of what I want to do after college and how he could help me. Once he had a general idea of who I was, we spent the next 4 hours visiting all the departments and explaining how and what every employee did. The only difference from Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers is that Goldman Sachs is an ever growing international power house in the financial world, while Lehman Brothers on the other hand is in the process of downsizing and trying to repair what was once a great company. Again I spent most of my time asking questions regarding how people got into this field, what companies look for in employees, and if they actually enjoyed their jobs. By now it was already approaching 5pm so I gathered as many business cards I could and thanked Mr. Pauker for the once in a lifetime experience.
Upon Lehman Brothers it’s safe to say that I had reached a new level of being tired so I returned to the place I was staying and immediately fell asleep. The next morning I woke up and made a summary of all the things I had absorbed from Goldman and Lehman so I could look over it on the flight back to Florida. I’ll try to summarize some of the main points that I learned from this trip: Read all the time, be as unique as possible, constantly evolve to become a better person, be nice, treat every person you meet as a friend, focus on improving yourself instead of comparing yourself to others, interpersonal skills will go a long way, never be afraid to ask questions, and most importantly never stop educating yourself.
In conclusion, over the course of my short time in New York City I truly fell in love with the city and the financial field. My advice to anyone that reads this is to get out there and explore your options before you decide on your future because there truly is no better way to find yourself than by experiencing it firsthand.
UCF College of Business, Economics Student