By Max Shockett ’22
This past March, I had the opportunity to travel to New York City and participate in the “Davidson on Wall Street” career trek. During the three-day exploration, our group of 10 sophomores toured the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), visited with five financial institutions, networked at an alumni event, and engaged with Training the Street.
I initially learned about the trek from fellow students and professors, all of whom spoke very highly of the experience. As an economics major wanting to work in finance post-graduation, I have attended numerous Career Development employer events and am involved in the Davidson Investment and Finance Association (DIFA) to help further my understanding of the business world. I had done so much to learn about a career in finance without having any real-world experiences. The mission of this trek is to help sophomores wanting to work in finance by networking and providing experiential learning in New York. In addition, the Wall Street program is privately funded by one alumnus who saw this need for students and provides Davidson with an advantage from other undergraduate liberal arts schools.
Our visit to the NYSE was an experience that I will never forget. Having the opportunity to tour the trading floor is a rare and unique experience, especially for undergraduate students. We visited the Monday morning following what at the time was the worst recorded week in the market since 2008. Upon entering, I expected there to be a somber and chaotic mood, given what is portrayed in our media. Instead, even following the opening bell, traders were working diligently and swiftly without the commotion I imagined.
During our five employer visits, I was surprised to see the differences between each of the firms. Employees had varying dress codes, offices were configured differently, and each institution had distinct objectives, contributing to contrasting office cultures. This debunks the typical freighting portrayal of “Wall Street.” By interacting with employees of all levels, we quickly learned that there was not one specific career path and each firm looks for different qualities in analysts.
BlackRock (the world’s largest asset manager) was my favorite company visit. After meeting with alumni in the fall during their information session on campus, our office visit included a live demonstration of the firm’s proprietary risk management software, displaying the company’s unique approach towards utilizing technology to their strategic advantage. We also spoke with four Davidson alumni at the firm, each of who were in different stages of their career and in completely different roles. I was amazed to see all of the different opportunities and career paths available under the umbrella of the financial industry.
Overall, Davidson on Wall Street increased my interest and enthusiasm in the financial and banking industry. During my time at Davidson, I have been fortunate enough to interact with the incredible students and supportive faculty, and this trek helped show me how supportive and eager Davidson alumni are to help.
Speaking for all the students who participated in this career trek, we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to explore an industry we are interested in and to have alumni who go above and beyond to support us. Because of our tight-knit community and engaged alumni network, I would encourage all students to utilize the Center for Career Development to help pursue whatever interests them!