By Matthew Radman,
Stillman News Writer
Erika Ota Liedtke is a junior, majoring in finance and marketing and minoring in religion. She is from Roselle Park, New Jersey. On campus, she is President of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), Recruitment Chair of Alpha Delta Chi, and a previous Treasurer of the Finance Club. She is also involved with ALPFA and the Stillman Exchange. On her free time, she enjoys ballet and mentoring young individuals in dance. The Stillman Exchange team interviewed her to learn more about her internship experience at the Federal Reserve Bank.
Q: What was the internship that you completed? What were some of your responsibilities?
A: I had the privilege to intern at the Federal Reserve Bank in the Supervision group as a Rising Analyst.
During these past 9 months here, I worked on different projects ranging from financial analysis to organization-specific work. Some of my responsibilities included research and data analysis to develop comparative insights through horizontal and vertical assessments. I also organized visual presentations and data structures in PowerPoint and Excel to deliver findings. In addition, I conducted independent research projects on behalf of supervision staff, increasing institutional knowledge about specific areas of interest and under-developed subjects while supporting business dashboard. I believe the highlight of my internship was the opportunity to develop institutional knowledge through participation in central banking seminars with presenters from all over the world, as well as taking part in sessions with top economists such as Larry Summers and Paul Krugman.
Q: Why did you decide on the company that you chose to work?
A: Working at the Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) provides me with the opportunity to contribute to the stability and soundness of the financial system, a mission very near to my heart. I wanted to be part of a reputable non-profit organization in the financial sector. Due to its wonderful combination of academia, public service, and financial services, I just knew the Fed was an opportunity I could not let go, as I treasured the chance to connect with the brightest and most talented individuals in the world.
Q: How did you go about finding and obtaining this internship?
A: I am part of an organization called INROADS and as the opportunity arrived, a mentor reached out to me to inquire about the opportunity.
I decided to apply and after a couple of days, I received the invitation to the super day held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. After three rounds of interviews, weeks later, I received and accepted the offer.
I want to give a special thanks to the career center, especially to Bob Franco, who helped me prepare for my interview and walked with me through my career endeavors.
Q: What was the most valuable skill that you learned from your experience?
A: The most valuable skills I learned were networking and critical thinking. Networking has played a huge role in my positive experience with the Fed. Here, people want to see you grow, learn, and succeed.
They are open to meet, grab coffee, share their experiences, and teach you skills.
Networking across different functions helped me have a better understanding of the institution and its different divisions. I was also fortunate enough to find mentors that shared knowledge I would later apply to my work.
On the other hand, by critical thinking, I refer to the thinking process when putting together a presentation – how do all different pieces connect and why. It is highly important to think through the numbers, making sure they are material and hold a logical story behind them.
It may sound cheesy, but critical thinking is like a muscle that leads to decisions every day. For instance, depending on the scope of the project, and audience, at times, micro-prudential views are needed, but other times, macro-prudential.
Q: How was learning in a work environment different from working in a classroom?
A: For my particular role, I believe the way to learn is on-the-job. In the classroom, one is used to listening to lectures first, then doing the work, and perhaps asking for clarification if any questions arise.
In the work environment, projects may have strict guidelines or broad guidelines, and it is “key” to ask questions for clarification before proceeding. There are certain elements that are very particular to the Fed, learned only through hands-on experiences, which explains the reason why the learning curve is steep.
Q: What was the company culture like?
A: The Federal Reserve Bank is conservative as it is a highly reputable organization, but it holds such a collaborative community. The people are simply amazing – you are not one more fish in the pool of fishes, you add value to the organization and they care about your professional development. I had the opportunity to have two mentors and managers that dedicated hours of their day to teach me, give me feedback, and help me acclimate.
Q: What were some skills that you learned at Seton Hall that you used in your internship?
A: Ratio analysis, excel proficiencies, but most importantly, the ability to communicate in a business environment with confidence.
Q: What advice would you give to students who are actively searching for internships?
A: Be proactive, maximize your opportunities, and take risks. The career center is a resource available to all of us, make sure to familiarize yourself with its different benefits.
I would encourage you to take advantage of the workshops, keep your resumes updated, practice your elevator pitch and lastly, attend career fairs. Even if you are not applying to companies present at the fair, your exposure to business professionals and networking opportunities will add tremendous value to your development.
On the other hand, fairs are also there to help you land your next internship. Last year, three different companies from the career fair offered me internships. It is important to develop these relationships, as you never know where you will end up next.
Another piece of advice, take risks. Do not be afraid to apply for that dreamed job or top company because as Lewis Carrol stated, “In the end… we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” Work hard and know that you are capable of achieving everything that you set your mind to do.
Many companies rejected me before landing my current internship and that is okay. Use failures as a fuel for growth – persevere.
Q: What is next for you in your career? Did your internship experience help guide your future career goals?
A: I am thrilled to say that right now I have some offers on my way, and agree that my internship introduced me to a different side of the financial services industry, making me even more passionate about it.
Disclaimer: “The views that are expressed are her own and do not necessarily represent those of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 print edition.
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