Shweta Suresh (BS Econ '11) came to Carnegie Mellon University from her native Chennai, India, for the broad range of options an American undergraduate education could offer her. After spending her summer in Hong Kong interning for a global financial services firm, Suresh's horizons are broader than ever.
In ten weeks in the equities internship program at Citi, Inc. Asia Pacific, the Economics major had the opportunity to spend time on all eight desks in the company's equities department, from electronic trading to derivative sales. Every morning, she sat in on the 7 a.m. meetings recapping US market activities, then moved to the sales and trading floor to watch the action and ask questions about the process. At the same time, she competed with other interns, trading $2 million in imaginary funds in the Chinese, Korean, and Hong Kong stock markets to see who could generate the highest returns before summer's end.
The equities interns also worked on projects designed to familiarize them with the organization while helping the various trading desks. Suresh says she's especially proud of her work transforming a long list of exchange traded funds (ETFs) into a booklet the program trading desk can use in the future to market ETFs to clients. She also spent time calling Citi employees around the world in order to help the electronic execution sales desk create marketing materials introducing clients in the Asia Pacific region to CitiMatch, an algorithm that facilitates electronic trading, based on collateral already in use in other Citi markets.
Although she spent 11 or 12 hours at the office each day, Suresh still had time to fall in love with fast-paced, international, multicultural Hong Kong, which surprised her with its beauty. She also decided she could see herself living there, both because it was close to home and because of the growth opportunities there. "I'm still trying to decide between grad school and entering the workforce, but now I have more clarity," she says. "We need to go beyond borders and open up to the possibility of working somewhere other than New York."
Robert S. Simon (BS '93), head of the equities internship program, chose just eight interns this summer from roughly 600 applications, selecting them based on academic success, active participation on campus, and a desire and commitment to spend time in the Asia Pacific region. In Suresh's case, he says, she was editor-in-chief of the school paper, had studied several semesters of Chinese, did summer study abroad in 2009 in Shanghai — and had the quantitative financial background Carnegie Mellon provides to undergraduates.
Carnegie Mellon, he says, does an outstanding job of teaching its students "how to think, how to break down problems, how to put things into buckets they can understand and more easily problem-solve around."
Given that, he adds, he's found that Carnegie Mellon’s undergraduates hold their own against other interns — even graduate students. "At the end of the day, the difference isn't that big, beyond age," he explains. "Of the candidates we saw this year, Carnegie Mellon put out a product that was second to none."