About two weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the New Professional’s Program event entitled “Day on Wall Street”. For those of you who do not know, New Professionals Program is a recently established student service that provides various methods of training and preparation for entering the job market. Since there is so much competition when applying to a job, you should definitely take advantage of this invaluable resource. Veterans in the business world, Professor Denise Miller and Ms. Diane Shultz are responsible for NPP’s instant success; it baffles me how Queens College students survived without having their guidance! But I digress. The goal of this event, which took place at JP Morgan, was to give students who are contemplating a career in finance a glimpse into what the job entails. Though I was there for only 7 hours-a fraction of any employee’s workday- I gleaned a tremendous amount in a day packed with information.
After waking up at 5:30 AM (on my day off!) and bracing the biting cold, I arrived at JP Morgan ready for what lay in store. The first item on the itinerary was the Morning Call, in which a panel of about 4 individuals explained, discussed, and analyzed the contents of a confidential handout that listed industry trends, different companies, and business strategies to the audience of employees. Sitting in the back row with my fellow Queens College peers, I looked around the room and noticed a pattern. Besides for the fact that JCrew or Banana Republic seemed to be the popular choice of attire, almost everyone carried a Starbucks venti coffee. I pride myself in never drinking coffee, but I was not surprised to see this, considering the long day in store for them!
Following the Morning Call, we headed off to a pristine business room where we were treated to a delicious breakfast. Now that we were fully awake, we heard from a variety of speakers. There had been a great deal of thought put into planning this event, and it showed. The order of the speakers went up the ranks of employees, from analysts to associates to bankers. The progression reflected the JP Morgan culture; as you work there longer, you get promoted to a higher position. After each group of speakers, we had a ‘break’, which functioned as time to network with the speakers one on one. In my opinion, these networking opportunities were the most invaluable part of the day: we were able to converse with the employees and get personal advice. At first, the prospect of networking with so many successful businesspeople intimidated me, but soon enough I was comfortable, knowing that these individuals were just human, and had once started out in my position, too.
Over the course of the day, there were certain themes and lessons that were reinforced. Firstly, all the employees emphasized the importance of being a team player. I was initially skeptical, given JP Morgan’s indelible label as being cutthroat. However, as I thought about it, I realized that being extremely driven and being a team player are two characteristics that are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are ingredients that together result in maximum success.
Achieving success, and ultimately getting places, is impossible to do on your own; nobody gets anywhere by themself. A second important lesson was that networking is crucial. It happens everywhere, whether you realize it or not. Furthermore, connections you foster must be maintained; it is not enough to simply strike up a conversation with someone, never to speak to them again. You want people to remember you.
Lastly, they emphasized the importance of being scrupulous. They mentioned instances of reading cover letters in which people write about Morgan Stanley, which is an automatic X. When applying to many places, it is easy to get mixed up. However, companies as prestigious as JP Morgan seek excellence and perfection. An application is a reflection of you, and therefore any egregious mistake indicates that you are an unqualified candidate.
By the time I left JP Morgan, I felt that I had had an extremely worthwhile, enriching experience there. Unlike many others I have attended, this business event remained true to its title. It was informative, engaging, and interesting, and I look forward to going to another one in the near future!
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