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Student Flying High After Successful Internship in Finance

August 17, 2010

For many INI students, summer means 'summer internship', a prime time to make professional connections and gain real-world experience. However, summer internships are kind of funny - three months at an unfamiliar place, with unknown people and unaccustomed tasks, and then, almost as soon as you're settled in, it's over. So, what can you really gain in three months? For Prachi Wadekar, a Master of Science in Information Networking (MSIN) student, the summer provided new knowledge, friendships and confidence that she'll bring to her final year at the INI.

In May, Wadekar moved to Pasadena, Calif. to work as a Business Analyst for the Trading team at Western Asset, one of the world's leading financial management firms. The only IT intern among a group of MBA students, Wadekar's basic knowledge of finance and inexperience in the industry made her admittedly nervous during her first week.

"I was in a whole new world I never experienced before," Wadekar said. "On my first day, I was given the Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Investing and Barron's Dictionary of Finance and Investment Terms, and I could see the ticker tape with the latest stock updates on every floor. Everyone was discussing securities, bonds and market points - even the café was called 'The Bond Market'!"

However, Wadekar's nerves quickly faded as she connected with her peers and dove into her summer projects, applying her classroom knowledge of how business and technology intersect to help with her tasks. Wadekar specialized in fixed income investment management, where she translated business requirements into development specifications. To do so, Wadekar had to have a strong understanding of the system's architecture and various interface points, as well as any common issues facing users. 

"My coursework at the INI was geared toward the strategic, operational and financial aspects of technology," Wadekar said. "That knowledge definitely came in handy for my internship."

While she excelled at her technical work and acquired hands-on experience, Wadekar also built networking and organizational communication skills. Through interacting with senior management and meeting clients, Wadekar credits her internship as "a great outlet for professional networking, since you get to connect with managers across departments." Wadekar also gained a greater understanding of a typical organization's structure and protocols and learned to work with colleagues across disciplines and locations. 

"A three-month internship goes a long way in making you more professional and giving you a taste of what it takes to be successful at your workplace," Wadekar said. "This experience also changed me in that it made me more confident and peaceful. I am open to a lot more things now."

As Wadekar returns to Pittsburgh for her final year at the INI before graduating in May 2011, she is a "gamut of feelings". Excited to be back, and anxious to meet the new students, Wadekar hopes to take advantage of the many opportunities at Carnegie Mellon and continue to build lasting relationships.

"The INI gave me great friends who are extremely passionate about their work and interests and who motivate me to constantly look for learning and development opportunities," Wadekar said. "I am excited to return to the INI knowing there is so much to look forward to this year."