Skills Not Taught in a Classroom

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Charles Augustini, COL ’19

While many of my friends from home spent another summer relaxing on the beach and working at the local ice cream shop, I packed my bags and went off to New York City to sit at a desk—and it was an amazing experience I will never forget. Working as a summer analyst for a boutique investment bank provided the skills and background for me to jumpstart my career in financial services, and I met many great people and made lasting memories along the way.

Early on in my time at Penn, I identified that the financial services industry would be the best fit for my career after college. My teammates were working in finance, I liked the competitive nature of the industry and I admired the drive it took to be successful. However, until this summer, I knew next to nothing about the technical aspects or how analysts actually create value for a firm. As a PPE major in the College of Arts & Sciences, I simply lacked the practical background of my Wharton classmates. Fortunately, this lack of understanding all changed when I was given the opportunity to work at a boutique investment bank in New York City this summer.

The first few days in the office felt like the first week of college—a whirlwind of meeting new people, learning my role and establishing efficient habits. My eagerness to learn and propensity to put extra effort into each of my tasks earned me an invitation to join the firm’s Energy Group, which involved working on several live deals. Within the Energy Group, I learned from experienced associates and worked on important tasks, both collaboratively and independently.

Within a matter of weeks, I realized working as an analyst provides skills that aren’t taught in a Wharton classroom or learned by reading Breaking into Wall Street. As a result of the teaching I received from the firm’s directors and associates, I progressed from modifying Power-Points for both buy-side and sell-side deals to creating confidential information memorandums for live deals, adding sections to the firm’s pitch book, creating financial summaries of oil and gas companies and screening investors. Along with receiving hands-on training, I attended numerous meetings with clients and became skilled in analyzing financial databases such as CapIQ, Bloomberg Terminal and Preqin.

Although my summer wasn’t spent on the beaches of Cape Cod, I found more fulfillment in New York City than I would have anywhere else. With each live deal I worked on, I gained insight and real-world knowledge. Additionally, I received important advice from everyone in the firm including analysts, associates and directors, which is a benefit I would not have experienced at a larger firm. As a result of my fantastic summer experience, I am now prepared to land another great summer internship offer during OCR and I believe I am on the right path to a successful career in the financial services industry.

CS Radio – Episode 51: “First Generation”

Colleges and universities across the country, and Penn in particular, are starting to pay more attention to the special needs of First Generation and Low Income (FIGLI) students. This week, Michael and Mylène are joined in the studio by first generation student Ana Miletic (COL ’18), who is the professional development chair for PennFirst – Penn’s student run body aimed at connecting FIGLI students with one another and offering support and increased awareness of the many services open to them. Join us for this very special and insightful conversation with an amazing student leader.


Show Notes
Penn First homepage
FIGLI resources from VPUL

In the Spirit of the Holiday

Mylène Kerschner, Associate Director

In the spirit of the holiday that has just passed, I’d like to spend a few more moments thinking about giving thanks, especially in the context of the job or internship search. We know that we need to send a routine note of thanks following an interview, and an email is absolutely the best way to ensure that your message is received promptly. But what about thanking other people who have helped you along in your path to – and through – Penn? As a longer winter break approaches, think about taking a few moments to reach out to a high school teacher, a coach, or even a family friend to express appreciation. A handwritten note will likely surprise them, and will be sure to leave a fond impression.

I came across this article on written by Ilan Mochari of Inc., and I thought it was so great, I wanted to share it here:

Ilan tackles some of the annoying obstacles that can impede the process of writing a handwritten note (the pressure to find the perfect card!), but also encourages you to be specific when composing a note of thanks, and to consider thanking someone with whom you haven’t spoken to or seen in some time.

Naturally, this could lead to grabbing coffee or lunch while you have some down time over break, and during that meeting you could continue a professional conversation about your path and your goals. We all know the value of a good informational interview, even with a close acquaintance.

Or, it could just make that person’s day during the hectic holiday season! And isn’t that a great reason to write, too?

HIAS Pennsylvania

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Kelley Riffenburgh, GSE ’18

This summer, although I stayed local, I was able to feel the repercussions of both global and national events and policies. I interned at HIAS Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) has been around since 1882, working initially to help newly-arrived Jewish immigrants following pogroms. Their doors are open to immigrants and refugees from all over the world now.

HIAS PA has both a legal department and a resettlement department. I worked with the resettlement team, engaging with a variety of tasks and projects. My work took place in the midst of a flurry of executive orders from President Trump. As we tried to resettle those who face persecution, discrimination, and violence in their home nations, our efforts were complicated by attempts to block many seeking refuge from coming to the United States.

Day-to-day, my role adjusted based on changing circumstances and newly-presented needs. Sometimes I would interact with clients directly, accompanying them to appointments as they navigated the first hours of their new lives in Philadelphia. I met clients from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Uganda, among other places. Language barriers were frequently present, but clients who had limited English skills often indicated this, and we were able to adopt universal modes of communication, such as gestures and smiles. I had hoped to put my Swahili language skills into use for the organization as well, though I knew the Congolese Swahili I was most likely to encounter could be quite different from the Tanzanian Swahili I’ve spent several years studying. Spotty phone connections and differences in dialect presented me with communicative challenges, but I valued the exposure to Congolese Swahili even though I often had to rely on outside phone interpreters to make sure I was effectively communicating.

Being involved in the planning for Philadelphia’s World Refugee Day celebration was also a highlight, as I worked with HIAS PA staff and volunteers, as well as with other area organizations committed to refugees. The City Hall celebration ended up with great turnout, food, performances, and other activities commemorating refugees’ resilience and their contributions to our community.

Other projects could be frustrating, as I followed lead after lead yet often seemed to hit innumerable dead ends. These tasks included things like trying to find different options for affordable and convenient intermediate/advanced English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, and figuring out which primary care physicians and optometrist offices accepted certain types of insurance and also were able to provide interpretation services. In theory, the medical offices accepting our insurance were required by law to provide interpretation, but this wasn’t always so easy to actually acquire. I sought to remain cognizant of the value of my efforts, knowing that even if I was unable to find the perfect program or doctor, I had at least explored a multiplicity of options, which was useful information in its own way.

Despite some of the external bureaucratic frustrations, it was incredibly rewarding to work at HIAS PA, and I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity this summer.


Career Services will be closing at 2:00pm on Wednesday, November 22nd for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will reopen at 9:00am on Monday, November 27th. We hope you have a safe and relaxing Thanksgiving break, whether you are traveling or staying here on campus. We’re thankful to be able to serve you and look forward to seeing you again after the break.