By Amanda Sulkosky,
Stillman News Writer
John Gallagher is a senior majoring in business administration with a concentration in mathematical finance. He is from St. Paul, Minnesota. On campus, he is a brother of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity and holds the position of Secretary. He is also the editor of the International Business section of the Stillman Exchange and part of the leadership team for the Hall Street Fund. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and golf. The Stillman News team interviewed John to learn about his internship experience at Citigroup.
Q: What were your responsibilities as an intern?
A: Over the summer, I had three 3-week rotations through three different product areas, or as they’re referred to within Citi, “desks”. I rotated through the Retail Corporate Trading desk, Global Securitized Markets Sales desk, and Municipal Bonds Sales & Trading desks.
On each desk, my goal was to learn as much about the product and the business as possible, by shadowing traders and sales people and asking penetrating questions that would help develop my understanding of the business. Every morning, I would send out an email to my desk previewing the markets for the day by outlining key economic events and highlighting key events from the prior day. Throughout the day, I would try to sit with 3-5 people to ask questions and watch them work.
I would spend time sitting with people, reading articles or research, or working on a project. On each desk, I was assigned a project, usually a bond pitch where I had to pick a security and present to senior people within the firm.
Q: Why did you choose to apply for an internship at Citigroup?
A: I knew that I wanted to work on Wall Street in either Sales & Trading or Investment Banking, because of the top tier training programs that the bulge bracket investment banks provide their analysts with. Citi was one of the many banks that I applied.
Q: How did you go about getting the internship?
A: This is actually the best part of the story. Fall of my junior year, my off campus jobs were a caddy at the Rock Spring Club in West Orange, as well as a Server on the wait staff at the same club.
I was trying to figure out how to get into a Wall Street internship program, since they do most of their recruiting at their “Target Schools”, typically Ivy League schools.
Then it struck me, I worked at a country club, and a lot of the members worked on Wall Street.
I started talking to people to see if somebody could help me get an interview.
One morning, I was caddying for Jeff Block and Adam Markovich, Investment Grade Credit Traders at Citigroup. Adam was a younger guy and had less pull at the firm, but Jeff had been working there for over 30 years and was active in the interviewing/recruiting process.
I expressed my interest in their internship program and I had my quasi-first round interview on the golf course.
I told him about my extracurricular involvements, and my work at the country club, and he was impressed by my work ethic.
He asked me where the S&P 500, the Dow, the 10 year treasury, EUR/USD were trading, to make sure I followed the markets.
After we got off the golf course, he gave me his information and told me to give him a call once I applied and assured me that he could get me an interview with Citi. Jeff let me know of the current event topics that I should be well versed in for the interviews.
I studied hard and the rest is history.
Q: What was the most valuable skill that you learned while interning?
A: The most valuable skill that I picked up was how to interact with other people.
Although my technical skills improved dramatically during the course of the summer, learning how to approach people to get help with projects and learning effective ways to network was a valuable soft skill that will help me wherever I go.
Q: How was learning in a work environment different than learning in a classroom?
A: Learning in the work environment was much different. Most of the learning came from sitting with experienced Salespeople and Traders and asking questions, and having them explain concepts to you.
I had a lot of primers to read on various financial products and purchased Frank Fabozzi’s Handbook of Fixed Income Securities.
By reading about the fundamentals of the products outside of work, when we would trade bonds or other financial instruments, it would really click and set in.
Being in an immersive environment where I could follow the markets firsthand and hear opinions of industry professionals taught me more about finance than I could ever learn in the classroom.
Q: What was the company culture like?
A: If I could use one word to describe the culture, it would be collaborative.
It truly is a team effort; the sales people coordinate with the traders constantly to evaluate our client’s needs and get trades done.
Everybody at Citi is very good and very passionate about what they do which leads to a great collaborative culture.
Q: What were some skills that you learned at Seton Hall that you used in your internship?
A: At Seton Hall, my extracurricular involvement prepared me the most for my internship.
By writing for the Stillman Exchange, I was able to form educated opinions on key current event topics and develop my writing skills, which I used daily for my morning email.
Pitching a stock for the Hall Street Fund also prepared me for my presentations this summer.
I was a lot less nervous to get up in front of a room and explain to people why they should buy my stock/bond, after doing it before at school.
Also, everyday this summer, I was working on a Bloomberg Terminal, and having a familiarity with the terminal because they are on campus helped me tremendously.
Q: What advice would you give to students who are actively searching for internships?
A: I would say networking is the number one thing. It can be scary to network, but you’d be surprised how many people would be willing to help someone who demonstrate interest in what they do. The first step is to figure out what you want to do.
There is a lot out there so it can be hard to narrow it down, but find a couple of programs that interest you and do your best to network your way into the organization.
Look up school alumni on LinkedIn and send them messages until they respond to you.
Find recent graduates who went through the program and try to get introduced to a more senior person who can make the call to HR to get you a seat in the interview.
Casting a wide net can also work, but the most surefire way of getting an interview is to make that personal connection with someone who wants to see you succeed.
In my case, Jeff Block made one 30 second phone call and got me into an interview with one of the top firms on Wall Street.
Q: What is next for you in your career?
A: Citi’s internship program functions as a 10-week interview process.
At the end of the summer, I received a full-time offer into Citi’s Sales & Trading Analyst program.
I’m not sure which desk I’ll end up on yet, but I would love to be on the High Yield Credit Trading desk.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 27th print edition.
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