Take a look as we spoke to Melissa MacPherson about her participation in the Bucknell Externship Program this winter break through the Career Development Center.

What did Stifel have you doing during your time with them?

Throughout the externship, I sat with investment bankers from various groups in the division. I spent my days shadowing Analysts, Associates, and Vice Presidents. They showed me the projects that they were working on and their responsibilities based on the role that they have: creating pitch books, writing PowerPoint presentations, analyzing data for valuation, and projecting a company’s financial statements (otherwise known as “modeling”). I also had meetings with several Managing Directors in the company. They gave great insight into the business and I was even able to sit in on a live deal call with one of them.

What did you find to be the most valuable part of your time participating in this externship?

Looking back at my externship, there are numerous valuable aspects to this opportunity, but the most enlightening for me was getting hands on experience from a diverse group of people. By observing and discussing the bankers’ strategies, I went into depth of the analysis and could understand the factors that go into their business decisions. It was also exciting to see the subjects and terms that I am learning at Bucknell and from my own research come to life in a work environment. Furthermore, not only did I gain knowledge on the technical part of the industry, I learned about the fit aspect as well. In the finance industry, the culture of the company and division is particularly important when deciding where you want to work. At Stifel, I admired the collegial atmosphere and camaraderie amongst the bankers. It reminded me a lot of being a member of the women’s soccer team at Bucknell, especially with the team-oriented attitude and strong sense of support. Each person I met wanted to help me learn and was eager to answer any questions that I had, whether it was about a term or what it was like being an investment banker. One of the best pieces of advice that I got was that to be successful in this industry, you must be hungry and fight for what you want to achieve. I know that the finance industry is tough, but through this experience, it reinforced my desire to work hard and made me even more excited to pursue a career in investment banking.

What do you think makes this type of experience unique, in comparison to learning experiences that people outside of Bucknell might be apt to partake in?

I found this experience particularly unique because of the strong Bucknell connection that the firm has. Stepping into the New York City and Florham Park offices was intimidating at first, but after meeting the Bucknell alumni, they instantly made me feel welcomed. It was interesting to learn about their experiences at Bucknell and how the University helped prepare them for the working environment. They also emphasized on how the firm looks to hire Bucknell students because Bucknellians have the drive to work hard and the social skills needed for this client driven business. I especially enjoyed meeting so many Bucknell soccer alumni! They expressed how being a student athlete taught them teamwork, time management, and leadership skills that help them in the work place. It was also great to hear their support for the Bucknell Women’s Soccer team, especially with our Patriot League Championship win this past season!

Is there anything else you would like to include?

Any Bucknell student that is interested in entering the finance industry should do everything they can to learn about it and reach out to Bucknell alumni. Throughout this journey, I have enjoyed speaking with bankers on the phone and meeting them in person. It is intriguing to learn about their career paths and the advice they give is priceless. Students are also a great resource because they can express their experiences with networking, interviews and internships. I am incredibly thankful that Stifel gave me this opportunity and I know that the information/advice I gained will help me with my internship this summer at Morgan Stanley in their Global Capital Markets division. I will continue to reach out to the bankers I met and hopefully some of them can come to a BUWS game next fall!

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Leigh Howard

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