Sara DeSanctis, a senior mathematics and financial economics double major from Louisville, has just completed an eight-week internship for Lehman Brothers in New York City. Here, she describes her routine, the challenges and rewards of the internship, and how Centre, and Centre connections, helped her.
Please tell us your name, major and hometown.
Sara DeSanctis, senior, mathematics and financial economics double major, Louisville.
Describe your internship. Where do you work? What are you doing?
I just completed working for eight weeks at Lehman Brothers in New York City. I normally get into work around 7:30 a.m. and don't leave until around 11 p.m. I'm working in the securitization banking sector, specifically in asset backed securities. This means that I'm helping companies to raise debt at a lower cost by securitizing their assets. I do a lot of research and create presentations in PowerPoint. I do cash flow analysis and make models in Excel. I even get to participate in phone calls with clients. I've also had the opportunity to meet, hear from, and/or network with a lot of people at Lehman—going all the way up to the CEO of the company. These connections will help me in the future no matter where I decide to work!
What have you found most challenging about your internship?
Trying to learn so much new material in just eight weeks. Before this internship, I didn't even know what securitization banking was, so I had a lot to learn before I could even begin to help the team. My particular team works in the esoteric division of asset-backed securities, which means that they cover all different types of deals. Unlike the other divisions in securitization banking, this means each new project is completely different and usually a groundbreaking deal. This is a very exciting thing to be a part of, but at the same time it makes it harder to learn, since the structures are changing for each new project.
What have you found most rewarding?
I love coming in every day and making a difference. Even if I only complete a small task, I know that I've saved someone else on my team from having to do it, and they're gracious for the aid. My team has also done an amazing job of including me in everything they do, so I don't feel like an intern at all; I feel like a vital part of the team. I work with analysts, associates, and even my senior vice president every day. I think working on projects with them and seeing the results of my hard work being presented to my managing director has been the most rewarding experience.
How has your Centre experience helped you to prepare for your internship?
By providing me with a well-balanced education. I've used analytical and business skills that I learned from my math and economics courses, but my internship has required so much more. My computer courses have helped me since I'm working on the computer all day. My job also requires lots of writing and creative skills that my humanities, history, and art courses helped me hone at Centre. Most importantly, Centre helped me learn time management which is critical on this job which has long hours and many assignments going at the same time.
What are your goals after graduation? Will your internship help you meet those goals?
I'm hoping to get a job offer from Lehman at the end of my internship so that I can come back and work here full-time starting next summer. In this way, my internship experience will be completely responsible for me receiving an offer. If I don't get a job offer from Lehman, this internship will still open the door for me to work at any financial institution I want in Kentucky, since Lehman has such a strong reputation and trains their interns so well. I'm hoping to work several years in a financial business after graduation, and then maybe go to graduate school.
Was there a certain person or office at Centre who helped you during the application process to get the internship?
I had a lot of help from Centre in getting this internship. The main person responsible was a Centre alum, William Bowmer, who works at Lehman and contacted the school last fall about encouraging Centre students to apply. In turn, my econ professors were all very supportive as I went through the rigorous interviewing process. They helped me know what to expect on the job and what to focus on learning to be prepared. Professor Rizzo, who is from New York, even talked to me about what life would be like in New York; this really helped me know what I was getting into!
Would you like to share any anecdotes about your internship, just plain old funny stories, etc.
Everyone on my team is very dedicated and loves what they do. One of the best examples was illustrated by my boss. He was out from the office because his wife just had a baby. We had several calls with customers the day he was out and he actually joined the calls by dialing in on his BlackBerry from the bathroom of his wife's hospital room.... Talk about dedication!
My internship also presented several neat opportunities for me to hear awesome guest speakers, such as Colin Powell who came to speak about the importance of diversity in the work place. I got to go to Radio City Music Hall to hear him speak for two hours in the middle of the day; that was an experience I won't soon forget.
One of my favorite benefits of working at Lehman was the employee discounts and services which allowed me to visit museums around the city free and get discounts at stores, Broadway shows, restaurants, etc. Also, I could order dinner on the company delivered to the office if I worked late nights or weekends, and they provided a car service home after 9:00 p.m., so that I wouldn't have to ride the subway late. These little perks definitely made me even more happy to be a part of the Lehman Brother firm!
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