Student Spotlight: Samir Mohandes, J.P. Morgan

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nyc trip

Samir, left, with Andy Garriott and Jeff Welter in a NYC networking trip.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I first came to the University of Arizona in the fall of 2010 as a biomedical engineering major—the plan had always been to go to medical school. So I did all of the usual pre-med things: I shadowed physicians, worked in a research laboratory, and even took the MCAT twice. I was fairly successful by most standards but never truly connected with any of it.

My roommate during this time was one of Eller’s top entrepreneurship students, and we became very close friends; our long conversations helped grow my interest in markets, banking, and business, but it wasn’t until spring break of my senior year that I finally committed to pursuing a career in finance instead of medicine. Shortly after, in May of 2014, I completed my biomedical engineering degree—one week after graduation, I was at PCC’s downtown campus getting started on my pre-business coursework. Since then, I’ve started the finance major at Eller, gone on a networking trip to Manhattan with the Investments Club, and begun interning at a local financial firm.

Can you tell us about the internship position that you’ve accepted?

I have accepted a position as a Summer Analyst at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. The Private Bank provides advisory services to high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals, in areas such as investments, liquidity and credit management, and tax and estate planning. As a Summer Analyst, I’ll attend a three-day orientation at J.P. Morgan’s Manhattan headquarters before spending ten weeks at their Private Bank’s Los Angeles offices. During that time, I’ll be expected to gain familiarity with the firm’s day-to-day business operations and culture, and will have the opportunity to support the full-time analysts in performing client research, performance reviews, net worth calculations, asset allocations, and client prospecting.

How did you land this opportunity?

Last June, after the dust had settled from graduation, I was finally able to focus completely on pursuing a career in banking. The only problem was that I had absolutely no idea how to go about it. I was advised to speak with Jeff Welter, so I arranged a meeting and introduced myself. Jeff helped me navigate the recruiting process and develop the skills necessary to make me a competitive candidate. In late October, he led myself and nine other finance students through a week-long networking trip in Manhattan. The idea was to meet alumni at various banks, but looking back, the biggest benefit for me was meeting the other students also trying to land internship offers—many of them worked closely with me to further develop my knowledge of the markets and prepare for interviews.

Shortly after the networking trip, Jeff was notified of the opportunity at J.P. Morgan and passed the news along to me. I’d been striking out with the other banks I’d applied to, and was determined to make the most of the opportunity. The more I read about private banking, the more it appealed to me—I remember meeting with Jeff in his office and telling him that this was going to be the one. He put me in contact with John H., an Arizona alumnus and third-year analyst at the Los Angeles private banking offices. John was an absolutely invaluable resource, and coached me through mock interview questions, gave me reading lists, and provided lots of honest feedback. In the six weeks I spent working with John, I made more progress than I had in the previous six months.

In early February, I had a first-round phone interview with a pair of analysts from the Los Angeles office. Two weeks later, I was flown out to Los Angeles for the final round, which consisted of four consecutive interviews in a two-hour period. Three days later I received a phone call and offered the position.

I remain so grateful for all the support and encouragement I received both from Jeff Welter and from the students I met on the networking trip. I can say with certainty that I never would have even been in the running for this internship had it not been for their willingness to help. I owe them everything, and hope that I can one day pay it forward.

What do you look forward to most about this experience?

I’m most looking forward to the level of immersion offered by this experience. I’ve always learned best by doing, and this internship offers me the chance to do exactly that, for ten weeks straight. And, of course, there’s nothing quite like California in the summertime.

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