Externship: More Than Hands-On Learning

by Tessa Xie on March 16, 2017 · 2 comments

in Alumni Life, Campus, Campus Culture, Career, IAP, Learning

The collaborative workspace of Convergence Investment Management, which hosted MIT extern Tessa Xie in January 2017.

Each year during IAP, the MIT Alumni Association places hundreds of MIT students in short-term alumni-sponsored internships through the Student/Alumni Externship Program. In this post, Tessa Xie, a master of finance candidate at MIT Sloan, shares her experience working at Convergence Investment Management, a startup hedge fund in San Francisco.

Tessa Xie G

When I learned about the Student/Alumni Externship program, I immediately recognized that it was a precious opportunity that only a school with a strong alumni network like MIT could offer. And it was an opportunity I had to take advantage of.

Every stage of the externship experience taught me something invaluable—even before I accepted a position. From the interview process, I improved my ability to handle professional relationships. When I declined an externship opportunity that I received, I was able to discuss the decision with the alumnus. I proposed that I could instead start an in-semester internship with the firm later in the year and recommended a classmate with a similar background for the externship. I was able to maintain a relationship even after turning down the offer and I helped fill the position I declined.

Since I already had previous experience interning in big corporations, I wanted to experience different working environments and job functions, and I landed at a small San Francisco hedge fund started by MIT alumnus Chad Gray SM ’01, MBA ’01. Our workspace was a shared office with other organizations and the environment was vastly different from my experiences with big corporates. Our community was filled with energetic people who were passionate about the work they pursued.

Since I was working at a small firm, my externship required me to take on many responsibilities. These responsibilities, combined with Chad’s mentorship, gave me a better understanding of how a startup hedge fund operates. I was able to work on hands-on model building, which helped me understand how I can utilize what I learned in a classroom to solve real-life problems.

My career goal is to start my own hedge fund. This externship gave me an opportunity to work closely with someone who provided valuable advice from his own experience. From my conversations with Chad, I learned so much about the industry that I could never learn from a textbook.

The externship experience taught me more than just technical skills. It nourished me from every professional perspective and provided a clear idea of how to achieve my career goals.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Emil M Friedman March 16, 2017 at 10:12 am

What’s the difference between an externship and an internship?


Jay London March 16, 2017 at 11:12 am

Hi Emil, thanks for reading. Externships are typically shorter-term (like during IAP) than internships, and are designed to give students short practical experiences in their major or field of study.

–Jay London


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