Engineering a Summer on Wall Street

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From Inside USD -- Harmonie Edelson ‘14, an Industrial and Systems Engineering major, wrote this reflection about her work this summer as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, a global investment banking and securities firm. Edelson is also president of the USD Student Section of the Society of Women Engineers.

When I ultimately decided what to major in, I chose Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) because I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduating college. It might seem a little odd to choose a major via this reasoning, but ISyE provides students with a broad set of skills that are highly coveted in a wide variety of fields, whether it be healthcare, manufacturing, or technology.I am a very indecisive person and many things interest me, so I was very excited to find something that was not only fascinating, but wouldn’t pigeon hole me into one industry or type of work. ISyE’s learn how to use data to analyze and improve processes, and any company that wants to cut cost or increase revenue would, in my opinion, be at a disadvantage without an industrial and systems engineer on their crew.

As a sophomore, I was given the amazing opportunity to attend the Society of Women Engineers WE12 National Conference in Chicago. At this conference, there is a career fair that is attended by a great number of Fortune 500 companies nationwide. I was doubtful that one of these companies would want to hire me—I hadn’t even taken an upper division course yet.

In any case, Toyota saw something in me when I stepped up to their booth, I was interviewed on-site, and that next summer I was walking around in a hard hat, goggles, and steel-toed shoes at the heart of Lean Manufacturing (these principles stemming from Toyota are used in companies worldwide). I was tasked that summer with helping to redesign the manual assembly process of the Tacoma truck hood, which was challenging yet also very fun.

However, I was already thinking about how I only had one more summer and I really wanted to try something new that could help give me some more perspective on where I would ultimately want to be full time.

With that being said, I had no idea investment banks were interested in hiring engineers. When I saw Goldman Sachs at the WE13 career fair the following year in Houston, I literally walked up and asked something along the lines of “What are you doing here?”

I ended up talking to the recruiter for almost an hour, and a couple weeks later I was flying to New York City for a “Superday” (an intimidating term for a morning of back-to-back interviews) and the rest is history. After finals, I was a on a plane to New York City to work for Goldman Sachs in their Credit Risk Management & Advisory department as a summer analyst. I had made it from my little hometown of Parker, Colorado to Wall Street.

As an analyst, I helped the firm streamline documentation for regulatory and internal purposes, run variance reports on the firm’s products to analyze threshold breaches, and assess the financial strength of the company’s clients to determine appropriate credit exposure and risk appetite.

What I really loved about the job were all the friendly and intelligent individuals with whom I had the opportunity to work. Coming from a non-finance background, everyone was so helpful as I was teaching myself how to read a balance sheet or figure out how to pull a 10-K from Investor Relations websites.

While much of my summer was work, there was also play. I lucked out and found a sublet in East Village, in other words, a foodie’s dream. Lobster rolls and Venezuelan arepas were literally a stone’s throw away from my apartment. I explored pretty much every area of New York over the weekends, whether it was waiting four hours for a Cronut in SoHo, strolling in Central Park after grabbing some macarons from Laduree, or splurging to see Broadway’s most popular show, “The Book of Mormon.”

As I reflect back on my summer, I am very thankful for the opportunity as an ISyE to explore such diverse career paths and am very excited to utilize the skills I have learned in my future endeavors.

– Harmonie Edelson ‘14