Summer Spotlight: Andrew Joel (B’21)

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Each year, Georgetown McDonough students spend their summers working with corporate, nonprofit, and government organizations, volunteering, and pursuing their passions. While summer 2020 presented never-before-seen challenges, McDonough students rose above and made the most of an unprecedented summer.

Tell us about your summer.

This summer, I spent an amazing six weeks interning with the Institutional Equity Division at Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Equity Division is a world leader in the origination, distribution and trading of equity, equity-linked, and equity-derivative securities. The division is collectively responsible for servicing, a global institutional client base, delivering cutting-edge research and providing innovative product solutions. These solutions help fund managers optimize their portfolio management and execution processes, manage risk, and ultimately generate alpha. During this time, I was working from home in Atlanta, GA, and there are definitely perks to working from home to offset what the normal internship experience offers! While the internship was originally supposed to be 10 weeks and take place on a Morgan Stanley trading floor in the heart of New York City, I am very grateful and surprised that a virtual Sales and Trading internship could go so well! The internship flew by, and each day I was able to learn something new and talk to a multitude of people. Being at home for the summer also gave me the opportunity to pick up road cycling, and I was able to play more tennis and catch up with friends!

How did your summer relate to your professional or personal interests or aspirations?

Since middle school, I have loved markets. For whatever reason, it stuck with me and I have been investing and have made it a part of my lifestyle. For example, during high school, I would wake up every weekday at 4 a.m. in order to trade, research, and catch up on the markets since I did not have time during the rest of the day. I tried to get other kids excited about this part of the finance world too, and I founded the school’s first investment club. Naturally, whenever I would speak to anyone or go into an interview that was for a position related to Sales & Trading, it felt less like an interview and more like a discussion that I looked forward to! With that being said, I do not think there was a better internship opportunity for me than what I was fortunate enough to receive. 

How did you find this opportunity? 

I took advantage of all the resources available through the school and online to see what I felt most passionate about. Networking is very important, and I let my interests be known to a lot of people. I saw this internship in late summer, and with the help of faculty and advisers, I was able to get my foot in the door. 

What was the most interesting or impactful thing you worked on?

My favorite project from the summer was a project where I was assigned the role of a portfolio manager, and I had to apply various equity derivatives in order to achieve a strategy for the portfolio, whether it was to manage risk or enhance yield or returns. During the process, I learned many different things from numerous people about different products and some of the niche benefits they provide, which can actually add up to a very notable difference year after year. I presented my work to over 40 people on the desks and answered their questions. It was a very rewarding part of the summer experience. Lastly, I found it very interesting that, for the first time, I had a better indication on what was leading market movements internally. In other words, usually I just see what the market does and if it reacts to any headlines, but sometimes there are factors that can cause these movements that can only be explained if you have access to certain information not widely available. These are just a couple things from the summer that I found really interesting. 

How were your summer plans adjusted because of coronavirus?

I never imagined that a Sales & Trading internship would be possible virtually, but it worked out well. Interns received all the technology that they would need to be successful, and in some ways it provided benefits, like making it easier to reach certain people that normally would not be available in person. I was not able to go to the Headquarters in Times Square, and the program length was shortened from 10 weeks to 6 weeks. I worked from home in Atlanta, GA for the whole summer. 

What did a typical day look like?

I would wake up around 5:30 a.m. and get caught up on the markets and make sure I was aware of anything that could be important for anyone I might speak with that day. I never went to bed not focused on what I had on my schedule the next day. Early mornings usually consisted of sending out a lot of emails to try to schedule calls or Zoom sessions with various people on the desks. Shortly thereafter, it was often back to back speaking and learning from various people. When I was not on the phone with someone, I was either working on a project, researching some topic I found interesting and wanted to speak with someone about, was attending a teach-in, or virtual networking with my peers. Before I knew it, the day was over and some days ended later than others. Time management was more important than ever in the virtual world, and I always felt that I was able to get a good night’s rest and be ready for the next day. This is very different than what I would have expected to experience. Normally, interns would be shadowing people on the trading floor and spending little time at their desks. Nonetheless, I still had the opportunity to shadow and speak with more people than I probably would have if it was in person!

Any advice for other students?

Networking is key. If you are not sure what you are passionate about, try new things and talk to as many people as you can. Especially if you are looking to go into the finance world, try not to beat around the bush too much and be direct and pointed during the recruiting and internship process. Try to find a few people, whether they be peers, faculty, or others, to lean on when you need help. Use all the resources you are given, and never be discouraged even if it seems things are not always going your way- that is just the way life works!