As Hurricane Rita was about to make landfall in September 2005, fifteen students from the University of Oregon Investment Group at the Lundquist College of Business witnessed firsthand the furious buying and selling taking place in the oil and gas trading pits at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). All the yelling, screaming, and lively hand signals were enough to convince several students that this might just be the career for them. Fortunately, the UOIG's annual trip to New York City, which took place September 19-24, 2005, also included visits and presentations with investment banks, portfolio managers, and brokerage firms, providing students with more typical glimpses of what life is like in the financial center of the world.
"The annual UOIG trip exposes students to career opportunities that exist in the financial services industry. It allows them to connect the job labels with the work that actually gets done. It's an up-close and personal view," said John Chalmers, one of three UOIG faculty advisers and the trip's organizer.
In addition to visiting the NYMEX, Bloomberg, and the New York Stock Exchange, finance students met with representatives of Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, UBS, Okumus Capital, Siar Capital, Third Avenue Funds, and W.P. Stewart & Co. The Lundquist College of Business, Chalmers explained, has alumni at many and friends at all the firms that graciously shared their time to provide invaluable insights to our students.
Merrill Lynch, for instance, hosted students for an entire day at its New York headquarters, with three managing directors providing insights related to its diverse roles in investment markets. Merrill Lynch First Vice President Chris Leupold, M.B.A. '90, also described his path from Eugene to Wall Street. A visit to Lehman Brothers similarly offered a question-and-answer session with analysts and associates, as well as elucidated the company's employment recruiting process.
"Our trip provided an invaluable experience that I could not have achieved without the UOIG and our advisers' contacts. I came away with a better understanding of the finance industry and the world of money management," said student Leah Carter '06, director of operations and financials sector analyst for the UOIG.
Overall, the experience greatly benefited UOIG students. They had access to connections within the financial services industry at the highest levels. The trip also motivated students interested in careers in financial services to begin actively pursuing summer internships in New York, further solidifying how, for many, the road to Wall Street begins at the University of Oregon.
The student-run UOIG manages two stock portfolios with combined assets of approximately $700,000. The UOIG's annual trip to New York is funded by a generous donation from alumnus and former Verizon CFO Howard Svigals '75.