My Princeternship took place at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the newest federal agency aimed to help consumers navigate financial markets and make smart choices. The Bureau organized a well-structured spring break program; I, along with two other Princeton students, Thomas and Luke, was part of a fifteen-student group with others from Harvard, University of Maryland, and Charleston College.
On the first day, we were given a broad overview of the work done at the agency and the opportunities for us students to get involved, be it through an internship or post-graduation. A representative from each division, many of them senior-level executives, prepared short presentations and answered questions about what they did and why they liked working at the bureau. We stopped for lunch at a hip Asian fusion restaurant and wrapped up the day with a panel discussion with four recent graduates who were a part of the CFPB’s two-year rotational, development program.
On the second day of the program, we delved deeper into the work that the Research, Regulations, and Market team does at CFPB. LingLing, a Princeton alum and researcher, gave us an assignment related to a rule the Bureau had issued. We were asked to read through publicly submitted comments on the rule and determine what should be changed based on the opinions. This simulated the position of a consultant.
We had lunch with three Princeton alumni, Chuck Brown ’02, Ling Ling Ang, and Andrew Trueblood ’05, at a great restaurant called Blackfinn. It was great to hear how their different backgrounds all converged at the CFPB, from economics to WWS to politics. In the afternoon, we got a tour of the CFPB building and finished up the day with a discussion with members of the RMR branch about our findings from the comments. They plan to release the official rule later and were interested in finding any particularly compelling arguments. It’s cool to know that they actually take into account the opinions of individuals in their operations.
On the final day of our Princeternship, we focused on the supervision division, which regulates financial institutions. After an awesome lunch at Farragut Square where a number of food trucks are parked, we spent the afternoon with the division. Andrew gave a brief presentation on how the agency determines which institutions to supervise, and two of the Director’s Financial Analysts (one a Princeton alum!) gave us a task that was part of their own project to create portfolios for various financial institutions. My partner and I had to research the State Employees’ Credit Union and create the first part of the portfolio, which any employee within the Bureau would then be able to review to learn more about SECU.
I couldn’t believe those three days passed so quickly; it was such a great experience to meet students from other universities and fellow ORFE classmates. The agency is truly a unique and fascinating workplace with a start-up culture. I am very interested in the quantitative and consultant-like work they engage in and would love to get involved in the future, as an intern or even a DFA! I was inspired by the vision of the presenters, the warmth of employees, and their genuine interest in sharing their work. I have to thank the alumni who we met and worked with and Bruce Arthur, our coordinator, who made sure we were always accommodated. He mentioned they may hold this program in the fall and spring, and I strongly encourage anyone who has interest in finance, public service, economics, or any related field to participate! I never would have had the chance to get such a comprehensive view of a government agency, and the experience piqued my interest in public service, a field I had not considered beforehand! This was a great exploration of my professional options, and I look forward to further involvement with the Princeternship program.