Summer Internship at AllianceBernstein, Part I

Aziza Sultan is a current NYU student in the accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s program. She is studying politics for her Bachelor’s degree and concentrating on political economy for her Master’s. She is currently a summer intern at AllianceBernstein’s New York City midtown offices in the Technology and Operations Program.Here, she offers forth some thoughts on the first half of her experiences. Stay tuned for an update later this summer.

When I first decided I wanted to do a summer internship in finance, many of my friends at school wondered why a student of politics would go into a seemingly irrelevant field of work. After getting through this initial question, they wondered why I wanted to spend most of my summer working in a notoriously tough field, where people are portrayed as overly-aggressive, overworked and cut-throat. Rather than inspire me, these characterizations led me to become a little hesitant at the decision to accept my summer internship.

As the first half of my internship is behind me, I can honestly say that my experience at AllianceBernstein has been nothing similar to what my friends had described the dark scary world of finance to be like. If I had to use one word to describe the social and developmental aspect of my internship thus far, I would have to choose nurturing. I am surprised that even at a large, reputable firm, people are really willing to go out of their way to make sure you are noticed when you do good work, to say hello, or to answer career questions you may have. This culture of openness and warmth is practiced by people at all levels of the organization. At the end of our first week, interns were treated to a picnic in Central Park with the associates, and just last week I met with the managing director of a division different from mine over coffee. He has been with the firm for almost two decades and he gave me a lot of worthwhile advice.

The firm and the internship program really make it a point to foster their interns in an environment that is not only educational in terms of the work I have been learning to do, but also seeks to develop crucial soft skills that are necessary in this industry. There have been a plethora of events – ranging from “How to Network Effectively” where four veterans of the firm spoke about networking strategies, and how networking has aided them in their careers, to “Communicating with Impact” where the director of Learning and Development for the firm gave us pointers on presenting information to people during work presentations.  We even had a presentation by a managing director who spoke to us about her work with Congress and the state of Rhode Island regarding the 529k plan. Next week the Senior Vice President of one of the divisions invited myself and two other interns to lunch at the café in our building. These are just a few of the ways in which my internship experience so far has been a much more vibrant experience than just working on a computer the whole day, and being the token office intern.

This is not to say that my work has been completely easy and without its own set of challenges. It is nice, however, to learn new things from people who are both willing to teach you and to be patient when doing so, and also to be around people who want you to do well. Daily, I have three people at the firm with whom I work directly. These include my manager, my mentor and the associate in my department. Almost all of my training was done on the job, and I have taken on parts of projects from all three of these people. One of the things that was unexpected to me was that I do routine daily work in my division, some of it revolving around regular communication with people in other banks. In this sense I feel that I am an integral part of my team.

In the next half of my internship I look forward to the upcoming scheduled events, learning more about finance and interacting more with people in the firm. I also will be working on testing for a new system platform through which my division is going to be working, so I will be busy with that transition.

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