Finance Students Exchange Classroom for Real-World Experience During Trip to New York City
Four o’clock on Friday morning is a time that most Syracuse University students begin to roll into their beds after a long night out. But early on October 22, 40 Whitman School of Management students put aside the bars and fraternity parties and instead put on their suits and ties for a trip to Manhattan’s financial district. About half of the students visited the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), while the other group participated in on site interviews at Citigroup. The event was made possible through the School of Management’s Ballentine Investment Institute, an organization whose goal is to offer students an “unparalleled education in the study of securities markets.” The institute has been a part of SU since 1992, when WSOM alum Steven Ballentine made a generous donation to start the program.
When the students arrived in New York, their first stop was to the NYSE, which is the largest securities exchange in the United States. During breakfast, the students were shown a presentation by 1970 SOM graduate and NYSE member Robert Fagenson. After an extended tour of the building, the WSOM group was able to view the trading floor from a balcony that overlooks the exchange. Many students were impressed to see how the exchange operates on a typical business day.
“It was a great experience,” said Alan Blank, a senior Finance and Marketing major. “We were able to see how the NYSE operates from a different perspective.”
Professor Peter Swift and Betty Ross of the Whitman School both accompanied the students on the trip as faculty advisors. Swift viewed the trip as an excellent opportunity for students to expand the financial knowledge that they have gained at SU.
“It ties together everything they are learning in their classes and also shows them how the markets work,” said Swift. “It’s incredibly valuable for students to meet people involved in the actual trades.”
After their visit to the NYSE, the group moved on to the Mercantile Exchange, where billions of dollars of commodities are traded each day. When the market closed, the NYMEX opened the trading floor for students and allowed them to conduct a simulated trading exercise. All this was possible thanks to NYMEX board member Scott Hess who is also a Ballentine Investment Institute Advisory Board member. Todd Cramer, a 1999 SU graduate who now works on the exchange, also helped the students as they traded futures on crude oil.
Dara Mirjahangiry, a senior finance and marketing major, was impressed by Cramer’s knowledge of the markets and also at the responsibilities he has as a trader.
“Five years ago he was in the same position that we all are now,” said Mirjahangiry. “This trip really made me recognize the potential of a career in finance.”
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