During the summer of 2014, Leon DaSilva ’17 had the opportunity of a mentorship at Merrill Lynch in Bridgewater, NJ. The opportunity was presented to students by Davidson parent, J. Edward Murphy as part of the 2013-2014 Internship Challenge. Read below to learn about Leon’s experience.
Q: What originally drew your interest to this particular position?
A: I wasn’t really sure what I was interested in doing by this point. I knew I liked math and economics, but I had not done much thinking about careers. I saw that the program accommodated students with little to no previous exposure to finance and thought it would be a good fit for me. It would be a good learning experience, and I figured I would be much further along in figuring out what I might want to do after graduation.
Q: How did the experience impact your career goals and your next steps?
A: The experience helped me tremendously. For one, I was able to discover my interest in finance. I came in not knowing if it was something that was for me, and left thinking that it would be the ideal field for me to pursue after Davidson. On top of all the working knowledge I gained from the experience, I was also able to learn about the recruiting process and how to break into the industry. I came to realize how competitive the field is, and how much networking and outside learning I would need to do to stay competitive. If I did not complete the program, I would not even be close to knowing what I know now. Most importantly, I was able to establish a relationship with a helpful and dedicated mentor in Mr. Murphy.
Q: Can you share one brief story about a specific project, moment, etc. that was particularly impactful?
A: One day a student who had also done the program and had just gotten back from the London School of Economics taught us some general modeling. He showed us the Black-Scholes model (a pricing model) and I was just absolutely fascinated by it. I asked him and Mr. Murphy about it and they suggested that I start reading John Hull’s Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives to learn more. I started reading different sections of the book and also found a derivation of the Black-Scholes Model. I didn’t know enough math at the time to understand each step, so I spent a couple days learning some probability theory and stochastic calculus from articles and papers online. It was interesting for me because I had finally found a field which combined all my favorite academic interests. We had to write a report on a topic of our choice for the program and I ended up writing mine on the model. I put a lot of effort into it and receiving positive feedback on it was very rewarding.