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. Some interesting internships she has done in the past include interning on location in Kabul, Afghanistan with a firm on a U.S. military literacy contract for Afghan National Police and Army, and at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office under District Attorney Kathleen Rice. Here, she offers forth some thoughts on the second half of her experience at AllianceBernstein. Click here to read her earlier post.
In my final few days interning at AllianceBernstein, I am surprised at how quickly ten weeks have gone by. In that time, I have learned a lot about derivatives and about operations and have been mentored both officially and unofficially by people in the organization. This spirit of unofficial mentorship was present both among people who were in groups different from mine and also across various positions of seniority throughout the firm. Most people don’t get to describe their internship as interesting or inspiring. Mine was both.
Since I last wrote part one of my blog about a month ago, I have attended a plethora of events – some catered to interns and others for everyone at the firm. One skill that the program has focused on refining for the interns is presenting and public speaking. The Technology and Operations internship program hosted a multi-hour class led by a professional coach and a Broadway theater actress who comes to the firm to work with employees about connecting with audiences, building content, and the various psychological elements of delivering a speech. This was followed by multiple drills where we exercised what we had just learned. This was especially helpful to myself, as someone who had joined the firm’s Toastmaster’s Club, which aims to improve the communication, public speaking and leadership skills of its members. The club warmly welcomed me, and I signed up to deliver an ice breaker speech at one of their bi-monthly meetings. Not only was this was a great way to meet other people at the firm but it also gave me a chance to exercise my newly learned skills from the course and have the people I worked amongst learn a little more about me on a personal level. I also got written feedback from each person in attendance which was a helpful way to learn about what I needed to work on as a public speaker, in addition to my strengths.
Interns and incoming associates were also treated to a networking reception with senior leaders at AllianceBernstein. It has been really useful to meet with people who work in the different moving parts of the firm because I’ve come to realize that though the organizational structure of the firm is such that there are different divisions that may not work together day to day, collaboration from time to time with people from different divisions on larger projects is necessary and adds variety to the type of work people do. Also, just as a curious person who has a vested interest in the larger organization and workings of the company, it’s useful to know people who do different things than myself. This curiosity led me to schedule meetings with dozens of people across the firm (in groups including Equities, Private Client, Sanford C. Bernstein research roles, Multi Asset Solutions, Fixed Income and more) to learn more about what they do and how their work is important, interesting and makes a difference.
In my group, I was trained and in contact regularly with my mentor and manager, both of whom gave me increasing responsibility on a day to day basis within my group. A moment in which I recognized that my work within our group was meaningful was when my train was stalled in a station as a result of an investigation and I became increasingly worried as each minute passed that I wouldn’t be able to send the early morning email to one of the brokers who I was working with on a daily basis to reconcile company business. (I emailed my mentor and manager as I was on the train to let them know of the situation). One of the interesting projects our team was involved in was planning the switching of the software system that the derivative operations team would be using in regards to collateral.
Overall, the internship was valuable because I not only learned about the work of the company, but I learned that the people here are proud of what they do and care about each other. A nice end to the summer program was seeing the rotational associates, whom with interns worked closely, graduate to their next positions. The program included a presentation and graduation ceremony for the associates, as well as a reception afterwards.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank the people I’ve come in contact with throughout the course of the internship. In particular, the people who I’ve worked closely with – my manager Brian Mullen, mentor May Hu, and an associate in my group Darren Breda. I’d also like to thank the people I sit by (specifically Christian Paine, Mark Tarnok, Walter Kowalewski and Amro Shabaan) for being so encouraging and welcoming. Thanks to Gaetano DiMiceli, for allowing me to a part of his incredible team. Last but not least, a very special thanks to Erinn Goldenberg and Eshrat Jahan for making this internship experience as seamless and fulfilling as they did!