The Empire City. The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps. New York. As a young child, I would sing Frank Sinatra’s, “New York, New York” with my dad while watching Yankees games. And at night, I would close my eyes and dream…By day, I was a centerfielder for the New York Yankees in the Bronx, and by night, I was a celebrity walking beneath the glorified skyscrapers and lights shining from Manhattan.
During the first few weeks of my freshman year in M&T, I watched many seniors’ eyes light up when they talked with each other about their highly coveted jobs in Manhattan. They told me, “A large portion of Penn’s senior class flocks up to New York after graduation. Next year, I’ll be working alongside my closest college friends.” I would sit quietly and wonder, “What could be so magical about a congested, grid-locked city?” Well, a few weeks ago, I finally got a taste of the mystique.
In April, The M&T Program paid for 15 freshmen and sophomores to attend an M&T Club NYC Career Trek. In one day, we visited one of the nation’s fastest growing startups—Fab, the world’s largest asset manager—Blackrock, and the number one best company to work for (according to Fortune Magazine)—Google. At each of our stops, we were met by M&T alumni who toured us around their offices and then discussed with us what it was like to work where they work and how they got there.
Our first stop of the day was to Fab. Before the Fab M&T alumnus, Catherine, even met with us, our eyes lit up at the foosball tables, colorful walls, and funky looking couches that lined the Fab office. Then, Catherine showed us walls made of removable blocks and scratch-and-sniff walls that smelled like bananas! Most of us couldn’t help but smile at the thought of how much Fab workers enjoy their workspace. Catherine then proceeded to tell us that, “Most days fly by so quickly that when the routine end-of-the-day emails are sent out I typically don’t believe that it is already time to go home.” Catherine spent some time working at a larger company prior to taking a marketing position at Fab. Now, she says that, “Rather than having to wait for my suggestions to be looked at by other departments, I can act proactively in real time. I love how much impact my work can directly have on Fab’s success.”
The day’s second stop was Blackstone. Compared to Fab, the Blackstone workplace had a much more formal atmosphere. Prateek, the Blackstone M&T alumnus, took us up to a beautiful conference room with a view of Manhattan’s tallest towers. For most of his time with us, Prateek presented a packet of what it is like to work at Blackstone and what it means to be an investment manager. He said, “Although we all work extremely hard, the analysts all form a tightly knit family. I mess around and have a good time with my co-workers all the time.” Without a doubt, completing the two year analyst position at Blackstone opens up huge doors for the future.
The third and final stop of the day was the Google office. Our Google M&T alum host, Brian, showed us ping pong tables, the fitness center, the sleeping pods, and the pinball machines that appear all throughout Google. Most of us were amazed at how anyone is still able to get work done when they’re surrounded by games! We asked Brian what it’s like to work while surrounded by toys, and he laughed before responding, “We still manage to get our work done and have a good time during the process.” And to cap off a fantastic tour of the Google office, an employee walked past us with Google Glasses on our way out which elicited cheers from all the M&T students in attendance.
Now, my views of New York are no longer limited to whimsical dreams about playing for the Yankees or being a star on Broadway. The M&T Club Career Trek gave me an invaluable look at exactly what it means to work at a New York office in tech, finance, and at a startup. I can hardly wait for the next chance to go back to the city of my childhood dreams!
Matt is a current M&T freshman in the Class of 2016. He is considering majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics within Penn Engineering and has yet to declare his concentration in the Wharton School.