A day in the life…of an Investment Banking Intern

AshleyHinesInternshipBy: Ashley Hines ’15

During my application process for business school, I thought I wanted to change things up like most people do. I had worked in finance at a great firm before school as an equity trader. This was a fun job, with a lot of social interaction in a fast paced environment. These were all huge positives for me, yet I realized I was not the one making any ultimate decisions. At first I thought I wanted to pursue consulting with a focus on consumer and retail as my career switch. Yet as I started to explore those options, I realized that my entire network was in finance and that I enjoyed the finance industry, but not the role I was in. Thus, I decided I wanted to stay in finance and pursued a role in investment banking.

I was fortunate enough to receive a Diversity Fellowship, allowing me to skip the investment banking recruiting process (which is quite intense) and choose the group I would like to be in for the summer. I am in the Consumer and Retail Investment Banking Group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

As for a day in the life, each day is a new challenge. I had worked in finance prior to school and so I had some idea of what to expect. Yet as I arrived the first day, I realized I was an intern again. That has been the biggest hurdle for me to get over. Most MBAs have had careers before and even had interns working for them. Now we are back at the bottom of the totem pole, which is a humbling experience but liberating in some sense. You are given free rein to ask any question you want, so take advantage of the opportunity to learn!

Overall, the role has exceeded my expectations. I have been given meaningful work that I can take the lead on and I have been able to exercise my creativity, which was unexpected in a role where everyone wears a suit every day.  I also have been given the opportunity to manage summer analysts as well as sharpen my technical skills. I can see how this job translates into many more opportunities, so no matter what happens in two weeks (fingers crossed), I am so glad I had this experience in investment banking.

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A Day in the Life…of a Less Traditional Summer


By: Kanyisa Ncemane ’15

Simple Instructions on How to spend the summer of Your First-Year of B-School:

  1. Don’t Be Like Me.

About a week (or seven…) ago, our extremely understanding (patient, kind, talented and awesome…) CWiB VP of Marketing, Kristen Bierfeldt,  asked me to put together a blog under the “A Day in the Life…” series. So, yesterday, after a couple of gentle reminders from Kristen – I began to document the contents of “a day in the life of a… Summer Slacker”

Thursday, 24th July 2014 (day 71 of 103)

6:00 – Wake-up.

6:01 – Curse disobedient internal body-clock, roll-over and fall back to sleep.

9:23 – Wake-up again.

9:25 – Check Instagram. Chuckle at the miserable winter my South African friends and family are having. No filter can hide that doom and gloom buddies…#instaNYCsummer.

9:31 – Check Facebook. Chuckle again at the miserable winter my South African friends and family are having.

9:42 – Check Whatsapp. Catch-up on gossip on the family Whatsapp group (my cousin and his wife have just gotten a new puppy and they are letting it stay in the house…with the humans…what a SCANDAL). Reply to some or other silly wise cracks my brothers have written while the other hemisphere was sleeping (it’s now 6 hours later so my responses are in general way too delayed to even sound vaguely witty… curse you latitude and your time zones).

9:54 – Switch on TV. Flick through channels… Stop on the Steve Harvey show… linger for longer than is acceptable (where does Steve Harvey buy these awful suits? Fascinating).

10:23 –Check cellphone. Die of shock – I have less than 7 minutes to get to my gym appointment.

10:24– Send text to Mel (unreasonably attractive personal trainer) to tell him that the metro is delayed. Lies.

10:25 – Search for clean gym clothes. Futile.

10: 35 – Catch 1 train to gym on 95th and Broadway.

10: 42 – Arrive at gym.

10: 43 – Get on treadmill. Stand on stationary treadmill.

10:45 – Mel spots me, comes over, asks how long I’ve been running for. I respond: “11 minutes”. Another lie.

11:00 – Struggle through 5 push-ups. Mel asks me what I have had for breakfast. I respond: “oatmeal”. More lies.

11:30 – Leave gym feeling like I’ve been trampled by a family of elephants. I really should eat before I come here.

11:49 – Arrive at my building. Catch-up with my doorman – James. He is awesome and basically my only friend between the hours of 9am and 6pm … (yes… Kelly, Leslie and Jess… this is the part where you feel bad about never taking my calls because you are “at work”…whatever.)

12:15 – Go upstairs.

12: 17 – Get into the shower.

12:35 – Get out of the shower (yes… you read right… I take 18minute showers. It’s a self-awarded summer slacker privilege).

12:36 – Search for clean clothes. Again…futile.

12:37 – Prepare lunch. Today’s menu: Bran Flakes and Soya Milk. My favorites.

12: 41 – Take daily “power nap”.

15:23 – Wake up from “power nap”. Get angry at myself for “over-doing” the napping. Give myself a mental lecture about how I am wasting my summer and how I should really get out and do something. Explore New York. Read a GOOD book. Go to the Guggenheim. Take a cooking class. Practice my mandarin.

15:25 – Exhausted from the mental lecture, I reward myself with another quick nap.

16:00 – Switch on TV. Watch two back-to-back episodes of Dr. Phil (the USA content is so much better than what we get in South Africa – we’re still airing Season 1… I think the show may have still been finding its feet at that point. Not the same.).

17:30 – Prepare dinner. Today’s menu: Almonds and 3 week old yoghurt (I stand firm in the belief that expiry dates are purely illustrative).

18:00 – Watch TV. Oh look… another Law & Order SVU re-run. Fantastic.

20:12 – Agonize about how to force a cable subscription into my monthly budget.  It’s a fairly complicated decision:  the rent or cable?  Abort.

21:00 – Check emails. Read emails.

21: 01 – Mark emails as “unread”. Mentally file under “emails I should really respond to”. I am living in a sea of black.

21:05 – Read two pages of Junot Diaz’s “The Brief  Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”. Yawn. Pass out.

And that was my yesterday. In all fairness – not all of the 71 days of this summer have been like yesterday. I have had a wonderful time. I spent a month in Asia (the picture above is from Day 42 in Halong Bay, Vietnam), two wonderful weeks traveling America (it is so under-rated!) with my awesome parents and am about to embark on a glorious trip to Greece and Spain with some of my oldest and most loyal friends.

So how did I end up here? I didn’t recruit for an internship. By the time the recruiting season came around (exactly three weeks after I’d started at CBS… don’t believe a word of what they say… it more than JUST sneaks up on you!) I hadn’t a clue of what I wanted to do with my life. For the most part – I still don’t. I do know myself a lot better, however. I know what it is that I don’t want. I have taken this time to figure at least that out. So to the candidates who join us at CBS this Fall – go back to the instructions I gave at the beginning of this blog: Don’t be like ME. Be like YOU. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement and the angst (and there will be angst) that comes with the first year of B-school. Stay true to YOU.

I look forward to meeting all of you soon.

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A Day in the Life…of a Career Switcher




By: Caroline Kirwin, ’15

As most people heading to business school, I was looking for a change. Although we all believe we know what the change will be, whether career industry, function, geography, etc., rarely does that initially clear path prove to be easily navigated. As we begin recruiting what seems like a few short days after beginning school, the path not only forks, but rather splits into about 10+ different trails. Should I focus on jobs with a defined hiring cycle along with half of my class? Do I need a higher paying job to cover my student and growing travel loans? Is now the time to launch my tiaras for dogs line? The rapidly growing decision tree is overwhelming. Eventually we blink and find ourselves halfway down one (or somehow straddling two) of the paths without even realizing how we ended up there.

 My story isn’t much different but at least thus far, it has resulted in me returning to that initial path I wrote about in my application essay (and I can’t even cross my fingers when typing this post). I was unsure I would be able to make the leap to the energy industry without having had much prior energy experience, so I also pursued investment banking and finance rotational programs. After some hard work and probably a bit of good luck, I was able to land an internship in GE’s Energy Financial Services group doing exactly what I had hoped – financing energy projects.  Although I tried to prepare as much as is possible prior to starting in early June, the reality set in on the train to Stamford my first day: I really don’t have much of an idea of what I am doing.

After five weeks, I am appreciating the steep yet exciting learning curve and taking it all in.  I spend my days helping those with years x years of experience justify their decisions to buy, sell, recapitalize or lend to energy projects and get those deals across the finish line.  As everyone who wants to make their job sound interesting states: there is no “typical” day. But, my days generally involve some combination of making slides for internal investment committee meetings, calculating returns on everrrrrything, freaking out about my final presentation to senior management and eating Sodexo lunches (for those thinking of working in Stamford – get a car!).

 To where this path continues, only time will tell. It may split 10 more times and then converge at the end of next year or it could stay straight and narrow all the way through.  Either way, I am going to enjoy the journey and keep that travel debt growing.

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Famous Women in Our Nation’s History

4thHappy 4th of July!

In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, President John Adams, “I desire you would remember the ladies.”  We couldn’t agree more.

While we all inevitably think of George Washington and Paul Revere as we celebrate today, the women who helped fight for our independence are often forgotten. So in honor of women everywhere, we’d like to take a break from our hot dog eating and fireworks watching, to remember the incredible women of the Revolutionary War who helped shape this country into what it is today.


Catherine Moore Barry – Known as the “Heroine of the Battle of Cowpens”, she volunteered as a scout for the American troops.  Familiar with the trails and landscape around her plantation, she was crucial in warning the militia of approaching British forces.

sybilSybil Ludington – Often called the female Paul Revere because of her rides through Putnam and Dutchess Counties to warn citizens that the British were burning down nearby Danbury, CT. Though only 16 at the time, she traveled over 40 miles on horseback to deliver the message.

estherEsther de Berdt Reed – Established the Ladies of Philadelphia, an organization that raised over $300,000 for the troops by going door to door and requesting donations. This money was used to purchase materials for clothing and uniforms for the American soldiers, all sewn by the Ladies of Philadelphia themselves.

betsyrossBetsy Ross – Although there has been much debate over who actually created the first American flag, traditional history tells us that it was Betsy Ross, whose meeting with George Washington, George Ross and Robert Morris, inspired the design.

mary murrayMary Murray – While her husband was loyal to the British, she was a supporter of American independence. One afternoon she invited the British commanders to tea to stall them long enough to allow American troops to pass by to New York safely.

deborahsampsonDeborah Sampson – Robert Shirtliffe enlisted in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment in 1778 – except his name was actually not Robert, but Deborah. Deborah cut her hair, wrapped a cloth around her chest, and used her brother’s name to enlist in the army. She fought for the US for years before being given an honorable discharge at the end of the war.

Whether they were tending their husbands’ farms and businesses while they were away, sewing clothing for the troops, delivering secret messages, or fighting on the front lines themselves, there is no doubt that women played a significant role in helping our country gain its independence… Now, back to the fireworks!

By: Kristen Bierfeldt ’15
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A Day in the Life…of a J-Term Student

CWiB BBQ rooftop photo (1)

By: Kareen Gilmore ’15

A typical day in the life of a Columbia Business School Student is a rare creature I have yet to observe. As a J-termer (i.e. a CBS student that starts to study in January and graduates in May the following year), I get to enjoy in some ways a more relaxed Business School experience. With only 200 students walking the corridors and a full staff it’s quite a different pace from the usual 750 students bustling about the Business School.

Growing up in Australia, I thought I knew what summer meant: beaches, picnics, being out & about in the streets of the city and winding down at work in anticipation of Christmas. This is my first Summer in NYC and it’s more about classes, dinners, daytime drinks, night time drinks, networking events, hiking trips and weekends in the Hamptons. Oh, and sitting on the school lawn and catching up with friends in between classes.

Summer Semester at CBS has been great – it marks the end of the Core (I just finished my last Core exam in Marketing II!), and the beginning of a world of choices and specialization. I’m planning to specialize in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, so this Summer I’m taking Intro to Venturing, Marketing Research, Leader’s Voice, Operations Strategy and Managerial Negotiations. To get a little more hands on experience I’m also working with a couple of CBS students on their cold brew coffee startup, Wandering Bear Coffee Co. It’s really fun trying to think about how to appeal to coffee lovers in NY beyond just having a delicious product!

In our Intro to Venturing class each week we get to hear from incredibly accomplished entrepreneurs about what works and what doesn’t when you’re trying to build your dream. We heard from Mark Peter Davis, author of “The Fundraising Rules” on how to raise capital, David Olk, co-founder of ShopKeep about how he grew his start-up and raised $37.5M, as well as many others. In Marketing Research, we get to choose a project and research it through focus groups, surveys and secondary research. My team is working on our own start-up idea in the shoe space and we are planning to run a focus group next week with our target customers to understand whether other people share our passion! In Managerial Negotiations, we are learning to become master negotiators. Each week we run mock negotiations and learn new ways of turning a negotiation into a win-win scenario, remembering that you shouldn’t accept “No” as an answer unless you’ve made your appeal several times and received three separate “No’s”.

All in all, school and NY keep me pretty busy, and every day is a new adventure with opportunities to learn new things, meet new people and discover insights that I will carry forward into the next phases of my life. I have to run to an end of exams celebration at the Pier – bye for today!


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