If the ultimate measure of any academic program is the success of its graduates in the job market, then the Penn State Smeal College of Business Nittany Lion Fund (NLF) is performing at peak efficiency.
The NLF is Smeal’s student-managed investment fund in which dozens of students manage a portfolio of actual investor money exceeding $7 million.
When the Smeal class of 2016 received its degrees in May, 17 among them were NLF veterans. All of them had accepted full-time positions in investment management and banking, 16 of them on Wall Street in New York and the other in Charlotte.
“The placement of our students from the Nittany Lion Fund is a strong indicator of the quality of our students. In addition, the quantity and quality of our Wall Street full-time and internship placements have grown significantly in recent years,” said J. Randall Woolridge, president of the NLF and the Goldman Sachs and Co. and Frank P. Smeal Endowed University Fellow.
In addition to the full-time placements of graduating seniors, 17 juniors and 12 sophomores from the NLF obtained summer internships at firms in New York; Hong Kong; Skillman, New Jersey; and Potomac, Maryland.
Woolridge said this group of students experienced a recent phenomenon in securing internships. Where once the internship recruiting market began and ended in February, he said now the process starts as early as October and is mostly completed by December.
A number of factors, he said, have contributed to the rate of success for graduates and undergraduate interns alike.
“Students develop superior financial and communication skills due to the day-to-day responsibilities associated with managing investors’ money. Couple that with the Rogers Family Trading Room, which serves not only as a learning environment but a networking hub,” Woolridge said.
“And, our alumni network has grown as more of our graduates have taken jobs on Wall Street. That has led to increased involvement in the development and recruitment of our students, as well as mentoring, coaching, networking and visiting the Business Building.”
The sustained success of NLF graduates has also led to increased interest from the undergraduate population. More students have been admitted to the fund and that has resulted in new positions, such as associate sector analyst positions, and new director positions in risk management, portfolio analytics, risk analytics and equity research/analysis.
“To provide internship and placement opportunities for these additional fund managers, we have aggressively courted Smeal alumni at Wall Street firms that have not traditionally recruited here,” Woolridge said.
“Penn State is a target school at Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and, most recently, Citigroup. In addition, we have made a major effort to get more Wall Street firms involved in recruiting our students. That success is shown in placements at firms like Perella Weinberg, Wells Fargo, UBS, Barclays and Deutsche Bank.”