Works and Days

Financial Services Fellowship, 2015: Meagan Keating

"The Financial Services Fellowship is a prestigious award that gives students who are interested in financial services a hands-on experience through an intensive trip to New York City during spring break.  Students will meet with people representing a wide range of roles in this industry, including journalists, sales and trading analysts, investment professionals, hedge fund managers, financial analysts and more.  All expenses are paid through the generosity of a Reed trustee"

As a sophomore wavering between Political Science and Economics, I applied for the Financial Services Fellowship because I was fascinated with the relationship between capitalism, markets, and economic policy. In this sense, I embarked on the trip hungry for information and knowledge about the financial world that would help me understand it as a system of parts comprising a whole. However, after four days of visiting all sorts of different financial firms and with a few weeks of retrospection, I think I now understand it better as a series of dynamic parts that are constantly shifting and evolving as the world advances. While it certainly didn’t answer all of my questions about capitalism and wealth distribution, I now have a better sense of how individuals on trading floors actually interact with complex financial instruments that are used to mitigate risk and manipulate markets in some seriously fascinating ways.

Beyond my academic reflections with the fellowship, the trip was perhaps most useful in the professional career experience it provided. Every night in New York City involved meeting with professionals in finance (especially Reed alumni in finance!) in formal settings at various high­end restaurants. At times interacting with strangers was easier and more interesting than others, and I was able to talk to several Reed alumni who had transitioned from finance to law in their careers and who were excited to talk to me about both professions. While “networking” never really became enjoyable per say, I certainly came away from the trip feeling more prepared to handle future career situations.

Overall, the trip was a fantastic learning experience, perhaps most so in learning how to navigate the foreign world of professional careers and life in NYC. Among the most surprising things I learned were: 1) Despite usually preferring quieter and smaller towns and cities, I actually really enjoyed the pace and feel of NYC 2) I connected with several great students on the trip who I had never had a chance to get to know at Reed 3) Business suits are surprisingly comfortable and it took a very short time for me to feel normal wearing one every day.

I would highly recommend applying for this trip even if you are not set on a career finance, as professional career experience off campus is an invaluable asset to exploring careers after Reed. 

Tags: financial services fellowship, new york, business