SAIS recently arranged a trip to London to visit financial institutions and offices as part of a “career trek.” Student, myself included, who might be interested in pursuing a career in finance of some kind were invited to participate and get a sense of what that world looks like.
And what a time to do so.
We swing by the likes of JP Morgan Chase, Barclay’s, Morgan Stanley and UBS. We have all been aware for some time that we are in a global economic free fall right now and that direness of the situation was really hammered home by our hosts.
It was interesting to hear what everyone had to say about where things are going and how certain things are not coming back for a long time. One of the best descriptions I heard was, “It’s not that you’ve just woken up with a hangover. You woke up because a water pipe burst in the flat above you and your neighbor’s kitchen fire just melted the artwork on your walls and is coming for you next.”
Bottom line: boy did I pick the right time to go to graduate school.
But it wasn’t all gloom and doom. My first visit to London in just over ten years was punctuated by the generosity of my friend Ben and his amazing family. They put me up for a few nights and I had a great time getting to know them a bit more. In fact, that was probably the highlight of the entire trip. Upon arriving at the tube stop in his neighborhood, Ben whisked me to a choir concert in which both of his children were performing. I loved it. I heard six year olds sing about Pandas, high school chamber choirs sing angelically and even heard an a cappella group’s interpretation of some Beatles music. The whole experience provided cheer and levity to balance out the Armageddon panic that consumed our school-related meetings.
Bottom line: I learned two things on this trip.
1 - The financial world is completely up for grabs right now.
2 - A panda in Uganda would cause Panda-monium
You heard it here first.