Carnegie Mellon University

Julia Penkal

September 15, 2020

MBA Student Spotlight: Julia Penkal Interns at Guggenheim Securities

Julia Penkal, a Tepper MBA student, spent her summer as an Investment Banking Summer Associate at investment bank Guggenheim Securities. She caught up with us to share her virtual summer internship experience, which ultimately led to a full-time offer. Congrats, Julia!

Tell us more about you and your background prior to Tepper.

I graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Chemical Engineering. I realized pretty early on I wanted a job that combined both engineering and consulting. I was able to find a role that fits perfectly, working as a consultant engineer for a property insurance company.

During this experience, I traveled to various client sites in many industries ranging from manufacturing, warehousing, pharmaceuticals, real estate, etc. I was responsible for helping my clients manage their property risks from fires, explosions, floods, wind events – you name it.

After five years in this industry, I started to get interested in the role that finance played in my client’s strategic business decisions. I decided to obtain an MBA at Tepper to learn more about finance and ultimately investment banking.

You recently completed a summer internship. Can you tell us about it?

I completed my summer internship as an investment banking summer associate at Guggenheim Securities, an independent investment bank. I was supposed to complete my internship in New York City, however, due to the pandemic, the internship was virtual.

I worked in various industry groups including TMT, Industrials, Healthcare Services, and FIG, on various projects, deals, and pitches. On top of the normal work you would experience in investment banking, Guggenheim also has an internal advisory project and competition. They split us up into groups and we had to prepare and present our pitch to upper management at Guggenheim. My group ended up winning the internal competition and we were able to pitch to the actual client.

How did you approach the process of securing your internship? How did the Masters Career Center (MCC) support you?

I owe a lot of my success to the Graduate Finance Associate (GFA) and specifically the investment banking prep sessions. The second-years at the time ran these prep sessions and kept all of us first-years on track to get up to speed as quickly as possible. They had weekly newsletters, homework assignments, mock coffee chats, and more. I can’t thank them all enough for all of their help.

The MCC was also imperative to my success in recruiting. Jackie Goslin and Jack Vogel are the two career counselors who help out the Investment Banking recruits. They met with me multiple times to go over my resume and cover letters, talk about my recruiting experiences, and mock interview me. They also leveraged their relationships with our banking alums to set up Investment Banking Office Hours in September of my first year. This gave all of the first-years pursuing investment banking as a career the opportunity to meet our banking alums for the first time, share our stories, and begin the networking process.

What did you enjoy most about your internship?

Even though the internship was virtual, Guggenheim did an amazing job trying to make it seem as if it wasn’t. We had various lunch and learns about prior deals Guggenheim worked on, virtual wine tasting events and a virtual poker night.

When it came to networking, everyone at Guggenheim was accessible and accommodating. Every single person I reached out to got back to me and spent the time to get to know me and provide advice. I also had two amazing mentors to whom I could ask any question no matter how dumb! I met with them regularly throughout the entire internship.

What skills or tools from Tepper helped you most during your internship?

Tepper provides all of the incoming class with a subscription to Wall Street Prep. This online program has courses on everything you need to know for finance and investment banking prep. I took courses on finance and M&A and LBO modeling, to help prep for my internship over the summer.

We heard you also secured a full-time offer! Congrats! What are you most looking forward to when you start your full-time position?

I look forward to meeting (hopefully!) all of my colleagues and fellow summer associates in person next year! I’m also excited to continue networking and to figure out which group I will ultimately end up in.

Guggenheim has a generalist Internship program. What that means is you get to rank and work in different industries and product groups throughout the summer. At the end of your internship, you also get a generalist offer.

This flexibility will allow me to continue discovering what groups interest me and ultimately ensure that I end up choosing the group that fits me best.

What knowledge from Tepper will help you most in your full-time position?

Tepper is a rigorous program in your first year. I took five classes my first mini (mostly core classes designed to prepare students for interviews) and by the end, I was traveling to NYC every week for coffee chats with Tepper alumni at various investment banks. The recruiting process taught me how to thrive in busy times. It taught me how to prioritize and multi-task, which are skills that I was able to translate to my internship and will continue to use during my full-time role.

I think another big asset that will help me excel in my full-time position, and throughout my career, is our alumni network in investment banking. When we become second years and alumni, we pay it forward and try to help out the first years – similar to how we were helped in our first year. I am excited to help out the first years this year and to continue developing our pipeline into investment banking.