From Theory to Practice

A Hartford investment management firm offers two student interns investment research responsibility, personal mentoring, and a birds-eye view of the world of finance.

 
If you ask Jason Orloff or Bartek Reszka what they do in a typical day at their internship at investment firm Bradley, Foster & Sargent (BFS), you’ll see both of them light up. And then maybe they’ll begin running through a list of complex financial trading terms. It becomes apparent that this is a transformative internship.
 
Tucked downtown in Hartford’s towering City Place building among giant insurance companies and some of the world’s most recognized names in finance, Bradley, Foster & Sargent is one of Southern New England’s largest wealth managers, managing approximately $1.5 billion in assets. The firm accepts 2-3 interns from the College each semester, and offers a structured program that includes research, working with the firm’s principals in different aspects of investment management, and participating in projects that build their fundamental knowledge of finance and investment.
 
“The firm gives us real projects to work on,” explains Reszka, a junior economics major who has been involved in trading and finance since he was 16. “They listen to your interests and pair you with people who can give you experience in those areas,” adds Orloff.
 
Orloff, a senior and double major in economics and political science who was attracted to Trinity because of its robust academic internship program, began his internship assuming he would pursue a career as an investment banker. “I had the chance to work with different people in the firm and realized my skills and personality were better suited for sales and trading. I’m glad I had the opportunity to find the right track for me now, early in my career.”
 
Though interns learn about areas that interest them, BFS has a clear structure for teaching investment and finance fundamentals that lay the foundation for future careers. The hallmark of this is the BFS research project.
 
Interns select either a growth or value company not currently on the firm’s guidance list, which they evaluate using research tools and investment reports such as Value Line and the company’s 10K filing. At the close of the semester, interns present their findings and recommendations to the firm’s investment committee. Ultimately interns recommend whether the company should be added to the firm’s guidance list. Once added, companies become part of a pool of vetted investments for client portfolios.
 
Additionally, interns participate in investment classes led by one of the firm’s principals. “The classes are helpful because not only do they teach us about industry lingo, technology, and resources,” says Reszka, “They also add a professional, real-world version to the concepts we learn in our economic theory classes at the College, and they help us focus on exactly how to examine the companies we’re researching during our projects.”
 
Orloff is particularly impressed by the third aspect of the BFS internship: the reading assignment. Firm president and CEO Rob Bradley requires interns to read Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life by Michael Novak, which espouses the belief that business needs to be a calling and refutes the perception that men and women in business tend to focus solely on materialistic gains. “Mr. Bradley emphasizes that business should be a calling and that we as interns understand the value of business as a vocation,” explains Jason. Both Orloff and Reszka agree that this philosophical aspect helps round out their experience learning about the professional world of business and finance.
 
“We began our internship program about 10 years ago, and have enjoyed a valuable partnership with Trinity,” says Bradley. “The interns who come from Trinity are conscientious, hard working, and reliable.” And they have to be. Bradley notes that Trinity interns are valuable to the firm with day-to-day information gathering and analytical projects. The information is important, and a busy principal doesn’t always have the time to access the data.
 
“I’ve learned a lot working at BFS,” says Reszka. “They’re straightforward, with good ethics, and have taken the time to show me how to do things that make me more marketable.” Orloff agrees: “Finance is my calling, and I’m ready for the next step.”