Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Path to Treasury

I've been asked by email and your comments about how I got to be an intern at Treasury. I think it's an interesting story and one which demonstrates the value of networking.

More than a year ago in August, I flew out to New York for the first time to meet investment bankers. I was part of a larger group flying out, and the guy hosting all of us students was a vice president at Morgan Stanley. I only talked with him once over the three-day period, and he probably wouldn't have been able to pick me out of a lineup.

In October, I went back to New York and this time met with my Morgan Stanley friend one-on-one. He only had time for a five-minute chat and a bagel, but it was better than nothing. I went to New York two more times (one trip alone and one with a group), and both times I stayed in touch with this guy. I never asked him for anything, and just enjoyed learning from him and hearing stories about his work.

I interviewed at various banks and worked at a bulge bracket over the summer. It was while I was in New York again that I heard that my friend had been asked to go to Treasury to head up the housing and mortgage markets team. It seemed like a really cool role given the turmoil in the housing markets.

About a week after my internship ended, I heard through the grapevine that the intern currently at Treasury (an HBS first-year) was just finishing up and going back to school, and my friend was looking for another intern for the fall. I sent him my resume and told him I'd like to be considered for the spot. I believe that because he knew me and had kind of watched me progress and learn over the past year, he felt good about giving me a shot. I interviewed with him and another guy at Treasury, and a week later got the call that I had been chosen to be the intern!

At first I was solely focused on housing and mortgage markets, but when Fannie/Freddie/Lehman/Merrill Lynch/AIG/etc happened and TARP popped up, my friend, another guy on our team, and I all hopped on the TARP team and I spent the rest of my time at Treasury working on TARP.

I had an absolutely amazing experience. I met with over 65 CEOs of various companies of all size, did work directly for Neel Kashkari, went to industry conferences, and sat in meetings with Paulson, Bernanke, Kashkari et al. I learned a TON about the housing markets and the economy in general.

I feel like I have been very lucky to have done an internship like this. Because of the fact that I took classes during one summer while doing a local internship, I was able to skip classes during this fall semester and go out to Treasury. It's not a requirement for my school, but more just a great opportunity that I was able to take. For three months I was the only intern working on TARP (for the last few weeks another intern at Treasury did some work on the Capital Purchase Program).

It was an amazing semester, and I loved being in DC during the election. It was awesome to work in the actual Treasury building, right next to the White House. Every night I would walk out past the statue of Alexander Hamilton and look back to see the view on a $10 bill.

Being at Treasury has really got me interested in policy, and I won't be surprised if I end up working for the government again someday.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Well Friday was my final day at Treasury. What an amazing run it's been! Below I'm posting a time line put together by our Markets Room that shows the events that have got us to where we are. The amazing thing is that every event after the second week of August is something I was here for.

I just had my picture taken with Neel Kashkari (Treasury's way of saying, "Thanks for working 14 hours a day, six days a week for free for the last four and a half months!") and it was pretty cool. The best part was that after the photo I got to just sit there in his office for a while and talk about things. He asked about my future plans (and he likes the bank I'm going to work for - good news), talked about life, and talked about what it feels like to run $700 B. I've been in plenty of meetings with Neel before, but this was the first time I got to just talk with him one-on-one.

I thanked him for his leadership and told him I was impressed with his composure on the Hill two days ago when so many irate congressmen and women took pot shots at him. He responded by saying that it has long been his nature to fight back when people attack him, but that he's had to work hard to acquire the ability to sit there and listen without being hostile back to hostile attackers. Much respect for Neel Kashkari.

I'm putting together a post of things I heard/experienced while at Treasury this past semester. I guess one way I can describe my experience here is like that of someone watching a train wreck in slow motion: it's incredibly interesting and intriguing, and at the same time horrifying.


Monday, December 8, 2008

The Perfect Book

Hey all - a few posts ago I mentioned that I had another doc to post here about how to make a perfect pitch book. One of my friends forwarded me this email, which was apparently sent out from a VP to a few Associates in some bank. Some of the suggestions here are a little extreme (ex: hand calc everything in the book???) but during the summer this was a God-send.

Many many times I was the one who was turning books and putting in the last-minute changes, and I was often tempted to just turn in the book as fast as I could. The times when I would take five extra minutes to run through this checklist (even when the VP was yelling at me and sending me emails asking me when it would be done), the books I produced were always error-free and I got a reputation for at least not making stupid/careless mistakes. Enjoy, and let me know if you have any other suggestions to add to the list here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Too Busy"

Sorry for the dearth of posts over the last week and a half. I'm back at Treasury after a nice break and things are crazier than ever. I was told when I first started that by mid-October there wouldn't be anything to do. Then TARP came along. Then everybody said that after the election everything would start to wind down in the "lame duck" Treasury. Well it's been nearly as busy as when we first started working on TARP, so I'm happy about that.

In that spirit, and also in the spirit of my last few posts, here is one more thing I posted on my wall to remind me to work hard. It's pretty funny, and hails from the glory days of DLJ, which became UBS LA. They were known for being more hard-core than anybody else, and you can see why. My favorite part is the calculation under the picture by the guy figuring out just how many hours he's going to be working now. (If you click on the picture below it will bring you to a site where you can download this for yourself as a pdf - I don't know how to get a pdf up here on blogger)