Jonathan Rogers ’16, J.G. Petrucci and Co.

On Thursday, January 30th and Friday, January 31st, I joined Mr. Jim Petrucci ’86 at his real estate firm J.G. Petrucci & Co.  J.G. Petrucci maintains a unique platform in the real estate market, as the firm acts as a Design/Build developer. In other words, the firm acts as a one-stop shop for any client that needs help in locating land and designing and constructing a building specific to their needs. The firm’s projects include office, industrial, medical, educational, and retail facilities, primarily serving markets in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, particularly the Lehigh Valley. While J.G. Petrucci & Co. focuses on the design and leasing side of the business, Mr. Petrucci also owns Iron Hill Construction Management Co., which is the firm responsible for construction and physical structures for clients.

I spent most of my first day at J.G. Petrucci & Co. observing the firm’s preparation for a budget meeting with a client.  On the morning of January 30th, I drove from my home in Basking Ridge, NJ, to the headquarters of J.G. Petrucci & Co. in Asbury, NJ. As I walked into the office at 7 am, I first met Michael Schwertfeger, the firm’s financial manager who maintains and ensures the accuracy of all financial transactions. Mr. Schwertfeger wasted no time in including me, as I immediately joined him on a phone call with a construction manager at Iron Hill. The primary focus of the meeting was to ensure that the numbers of Mr. Schwertfeger and Iron Hill were consistent before we met with the client for the construction budget meeting.

On my second day, I joined Mr. Petrucci to visit one of his properties in Pennsylvania. After driving for about an hour, we arrived at a strip mall owned by J.G. Petrucci & Co., and toured the premises with a local broker. The broker informed Mr. Petrucci of the upcoming lease expiration dates for a few tenants in the mall, and discussed a potential tenant who was interested in taking a vacant location in the mall to establish a bakery/eat-in shop. After touring the premises, we drove to a nearby office of J.G. Petrucci & Co. and met with a pair of brokers to discuss potential properties for the firm to explore in the local area for investment. After the meeting, we drove back to the Asbury office, where I thanked him for the informative experience before we parted ways for the weekend.

Studying Operations Research and planning to obtain a certificate in finance, I have become increasingly interested in exploring different sectors that comprise the broad field of investment management. My time with Mr. Petrucci provided me a revealing experience into real estate equity as an asset class. Spending time with the team at J.G. Petrucci & Co. made me realize that work within real estate is ever changing, as professionals must constantly adjust to the various economic, structural, and qualitative characteristics of their clients.  Also, I now see buildings as more than brick and mortar. Whether it is a multi-family complex, an office, a hotel, or a retail mall, a building is an asset that generates cash flow that provides a return on capital for its owner.  J.G. Petrucci & Co. has thrived and expanded over the last twenty-seven years by helping its clients meet their goals while maintaining a successful return on capital for the company. On our car ride back from Pennsylvania, Mr. Petrucci told me that if one is smart and patient – patient to wait out the time for a building to deliver positive returns – then real estate can be a wonderful investment strategy as compared to stocks or other securities. I will certainly be keeping that in mind as I continue to explore different areas of investment management, and financial services more broadly, in trying to discern an initial direction upon graduation from Princeton.

Olamide Oladosu ’15, From You Flowers

After being introduced to Internet entrepreneurship through the eLab, I became interested in e-commerce and what it takes to run a successful business, both of which I was exposed to in ample quantity at Three days at the New York marketing office offered an in-depth look at their daily operations, from product management to paid search, and of course, more than I ever thought I’d know about flowers.

From_You_Flowers_PhotoThough my toes almost became casualties of the Polar Vortex, my mood was still high as Michael Chiang ’17 and I arrived at From You Flowers on Tuesday morning. , After meeting our host Spencer Lucian ‘08 and fellow alum David Palms ‘11, we were immersed into the business by way of a marketing meeting, which was probably the best way to do it.  To summarize the company’s progress over the past year, each person used both industry and position specific terminology that we could pick up on and later discuss with them individually. In these subsequent conversations, I learned about varying topics such as the role networks play in the flower business, what a conversion pixel is, the massive parts Google and Amazon are playing in shaping the future of e-commerce, and how software is constantly evolving to help companies get to know their customers better. Beyond this profession-specific learning (and in some cases practice), we were also able to discuss openly with everyone at From You Flowers about everything from NASA to their career paths to advice on staying current in their field; however, just as important was the deep and passionate conversation that analyzed the homes on House Hunters International over delectable New York sandwiches at lunch.

An overall takeaway with respect to my career considerations was the importance of data-driven decision making in e-commerce. Although there are many areas in which to specialize – affiliate services, social media, SEO, website design, and email marketing, to name a few – within the blanket of e-commerce, they all invite data input and analysis in order to be done well. An aptitude for making sense of numbers is definitely an asset when the order and number of products on a page can make a significant difference in conversion. For instance, tests in which half the visitors view one site layout and half view another are run regularly; a comparison of product checkouts or item codes will then allow a more informed (and tested) decision about best practices moving forward, and this method of continual hypothesis and testing really appealed to me as an engineer.

One of the highlights of the trip was definitely the evening of the first day, after which I thought I might need a week to digest everything I’d seen so far. However, as I now know, a Tuesday without some Mandatory Fun is no Tuesday at all. The entire office invited us along to their weekly bowling night, which was such a fun time; we got to continue getting to know everyone on a personal level while laughing – a lot – at gutterballs. This was just one of the ways in which this Princeternship was extremely rewarding; I am now so much more confident in my desire to pursue a career in business, and e-commerce is definitely here to stay, so I’ll be prepared to take advantage of that opportunity should it present itself. I want to take this chance to express my deep gratitude to Spencer and David for making this level of trip possible, Mike Chapin, for opening up his company to us, and of course everyone who took time out of their day to explain what they do and why they love it – thank you all for a wonderful experience!

John Yixian Su ’16, Oliver Wyman

John SuOn a breezy Friday morning during Spring Break I took the 8 am Dinky to NY Penn Station and then took the subway to Oliver Wyman’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Once I got there I met up with the other Princeterns and we received an agenda for the day.

All of the Princeterns then met with our host, Mr. Kirk P. Saari ’99 as well as Margaret Kurtzman, one of the campus recruiters. Margaret gave us a brief tour of the office space as we ventured around various areas, such as the “salon” where there was a fully stocked kitchen and ping-pong table. Eventually, we arrived at the conference room we would be staying in for most of day.

Mr. Saari began by giving us an introduction into consulting and what Oliver Wyman specializes in. Then Jim Behot ’11 gave a presentation on how to land an internship or job in the consulting industry. We were given examples of case studies that would be asked at consulting interviews. In addition, the eight  Princeterns split up into two teams and were presented with a mock case to analyze and come up with a solution.

After a short break, there was a consultant roundtable Q&A session with three more Princeton alumni currently working at Oliver Wyman: Laura Bock ’12, Ori Daniel ’12, and Michael Duane ’07. They gave us insight into what a typical day is like as well as some of the more memorable projects they’ve worked on since joining the firm.

Finally, we had a very generous lunch with more Princeton alumni at the firm, which also included Kristin Cordwell ’13 and Megan Karande ’13.  It was a good opportunity to learn more about various experiences at Princeton and at Oliver Wyman. Overall, I think this Princeternship gave me a very good “day on the job” experience at a leading management-consulting firm. I was able to learn a good amount about what the lifestyles at Oliver Wyman are like in addition to hearing the diverse experiences of various Princeton alumni. I want to thank our host Mr. Saari, Oliver Wyman, and Princeton Career Services for making this great experience possible!

Alyssa Lipshultz ’16, Oliver Wyman

Alyssa-LipschultzWhen we arrived at Oliver Wyman, we were given a tour of the office, during which we saw spaces for collaborative work, an exhibit of photographs from consultants’ travels and a popular café area with ping-pong and foosball tables that were popular during the midday hours. I enjoyed the opportunity to physically visit the office, as I was able to attain a new perspective that would not have been possible from on-campus presentations alone.

Over the course of the day, we had the opportunity to hear from many Princeton alums. First, our primary host contact, Kirk Saari ’99, explained to us what consulting really is and what factors might make this career path a good fit for us. It was clear that this first section was designed to help us to fully understand all aspects of the industry, including those that may not be ideal, and to help us to ascertain whether or not we would enjoy and thrive as consultants. I appreciated his honesty about both the positive and negative aspects of the job and his recognition that it may not be the right career path for everybody. It really reflected that he was taking time out of his day specifically to help us students become more informed in making career decisions regarding consulting. With the basics established, we moved on to discussing how to get a job in the industry and talked about the recruiting and interview process. After they explained the purpose and use of case studies, we split into teams and worked on a sample case study.

Subsequently, several consultants came in to talk to us about the projects that they had worked on during their years at Oliver Wyman. Hearing these specific examples helped to make the abstract idea of consulting much more concrete.  Many of the consultants who came to speak with us were recent Princeton graduates. I appreciated that, as it was very easy to see myself working on projects like those they described in just a few years. Finally, we had a networking lunch with several consultants. Everyone was very nice and honest in answering all of our questions. I especially enjoyed that many of them were Princeton alumni, as we were able to talk about majors, classes and their paths to consulting in a very relevant manner.

Overall, my experience at lipshultzOliver Wyman was quite positive. The day really clarified for me what I would actually do daily as a consultant and how the recruiting process works. While I know that much of this information is available online or in on-campus presentations, actually speaking with employees in the office gave me a fuller understanding of Oliver Wyman. This experience will definitely help me as I move forward with career exploration.

Thank you so much, Kirk Saari and all the other consultants and employees who took time out of their day to speak with us! I appreciate how welcoming and honest you all were, and every one of you really contributed to this positive experience.

Christine Li ’17, From You Flowers

Christine-LiI had a fantastic experience with my Princeternship at I, along with one other Princeton student, Alan Du, was hosted by Mr. Spencer Lucian ’08, the VP of Business Management and Operations at From You Flowers. Coming into the office on the first day, I was not sure what to expect. Upon arrival, I was immediately welcomed by Spencer and introduced to a couple of people on the team, including another Princeton alumnus David Palms ’11 and the VP of marketing Michael Sabia, who both greeted us with warm smiles.

Spencer started off by giving us an overview of the company—I got a glimpse of what happened behind the scenes of flower delivery. I was surprised to see all the things that had to be accounted for when predicting the number of flower orders, especially during major holidays like Valentine’s Day. Spencer then showed us his own contribution to the company: a data analysis tool he had built from scratch which recorded the different trends in the flower orders over the year. The tool was an incredibly efficient and an easy way of keeping track of past orders and allowed the company to use past data to predict new trends.

We met the rest of the team during lunch, where everyone sat around a large table in the conference room and had casual conversations about their personal lives and common encounters with choosing apartments. It was nice to see how comfortable people felt around each other, and it was evident that they were all truly happy to be part of a team working toward the same goal.

Afterwards, we talked to Michael Sabia, the VP of marketing, and learned about different marketing strategies, from promoting growth in organic searches to optimizing the price per click for each adword, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each one. He also shared with us his personal experience in marketing, which happens to be a career path that I’m considering. He had worked at a larger company prior to joining From You Flowers, and gave us his perspective on why he had chosen to join a smaller company. This conversation with him really made me think about what kind of work environment I would like to be a part of in the future, and I think his views have pushed me to lean towards working for a small company or start-up.

The next day, Alan and I talked to Dave about his experience with the company. He expressed how grateful he was to have a job at From You Flowers, and how he continues to challenge himself every day. Hearing this just confirms the positive and stimulating work environment there. He talked about the personal growth he experienced while working for this company—he came in with little technical background and coding experience, but was able to quickly catch on. This solidified my inclination to work at a small company in the future.

I also got a chance to talk to Ying, one of the members on the marketing team who specializes with marketing on social media. I was particularly intrigued by the specific examples of marketing strategies she gave us, which included researching the commonalities shared by people of the same generation, and using the information to target audiences of different generations. After talking to her, I realized that even though I was a frequent user of Facebook, I hadn’t been aware of the variety of different ways that Facebook could be used for marketing.

We ended our day with a trip to a nearby bowling alley with the company—definitely a highlight of the trip. I had already loved the sense of community at From You Flowers, and the weekly bowling trips as a way of bonding and relaxing after a long day of work was just a reaffirmation of this close-knit community.

Through conversations with some of the team members, I’ve realized that I want to have a job similar to Spencer’s in the future, at a smaller company where I can see the results of my contributions. I also appreciate all the advice I’ve received during my visit, especially from Dave, regarding both college and career. Overall, I very much enjoyed my Princeternship at From You Flowers.

Alan Du ’17, From You Flowers

Alan-DuMy Princeternship at, hosted by Mr. Spencer Lucian, ORFE ’08, was an extremely valuable experience. I entered the Princeternship lacking any experience in e-commerce.  Now, after spending two days with Spencer and his colleagues, I am well versed in the areas of digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), predictive forecasting, and business operations. Furthermore, I got an inside look on how a successful business is run; From You Flowers is the 5th largest flower-selling company in the U.S.

Day 1

Spencer began with a broadAlan 2 overview of the company and his role as VP of Business Operations. The company serves as a same-day nationwide flower delivery service, by both shipping from its own warehouses and utilizing a national florist network. Spencer showed my fellow Princetern and I the platform on which, in combination with Google Analytics, the company does its analysis of operations and performance. Impressively, Spencer coded this entire platform from the ground up in Python.

For the rest of the day, we met with other members of the company. We talked to Dave Palms ’11, who is also involved with operations and business intelligence. Dave discussed other aspects of the analysis platform, pointing out certain trends that the team noticed when particular tests were applied to investigate the effects of a marketing technique. We also participated in a meeting between Dave and the email-marketing specialist—we discussed the results of a test from the day before, in which a percentage discount was offered to some people on the email list and free shipping was offered to other people on the email list.

Later in the day, we spent time with the VP of Digital Marketing, who talked about advertising on Google and other search engines. We discussed cost-per-click for Google AdWords, along with in-site advertising based on previously browsed websites. It was very interesting to learn about how digital advertising is becoming increasingly more predictive—marketers are attempting to predict what one is likely to buy and display relevant advertisements in the websites one browses through.

Day 2

We met with members of the IT team to discuss predictive forecasting. I was particularly interested in this aspect of the company, considering that an inaccurate forecasting for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day would have enormous consequences. An IT specialist walked us through his forecasting work in Excel and methods of estimating quarterly or yearly growth. We also listened to a discussion between Spencer and the IT specialist about this year’s Mother’s Day forecast.

A notable event during the day was sitting in on a conference call between a few members of From You Flowers and a few members of an email service provider. This call was part of multi-day pitch to attract the business of From You Flowers. It was beneficial to see how conference calls and pitching work between businesses; I found the stark contrast between the sales and technical aspects of the pitch quite interesting. After the call, Spencer provided us with insights on additional aspects of sales pitches and how he evaluates sales offers.

The Princeternship wasAlan 3 a very rewarding experience. Not only did I learn so much about e-commerce, but throughout my stay I also received extremely helpful career advice for both my time at Princeton and after graduation. To top it off, at the end of the second day we participated in the company-wide bowling tournament!

Megan Dare ’16, SEI

Megan-DareMy one-day Princeternship at S.E.I. Investments Company was a valuable experience that allowed me to gain insight into what a job in the field of wealth management would be like.  I arrived at S.E.I.’s campus at 9:30 a.m. with the question “What kinds of career paths are available that will allow me to continue to pursue my interest in Economics after graduation?”  By the time the day ended at 4:30, I had a list full of answers.

The structure of the day was such that I had an opportunity to observe a number of the business units within the company, including fixed asset management and investment manager services. These job shadows were especially helpful in allowing me to take a look more specifically at the nature of certain job functions. At one point during the day, I even had an opportunity to apply knowledge that I had learned in my macroeconomics class to a real problem! Later, I had lunch with employees who had been recently hired to hear their advice on finding and securing a job in the finance industry. Hearing their personal experiences really gave me an idea of what to expect within the next few years during my transition from undergraduate education to the work force.

The highlight of the day wasSEImdare having the chance to meet with Princeton alumna Susan Ramonat ’80. More than one person earlier in the day had expressed their respect and admiration toward my host: “She’s truly an inspiration,” one employee stated. Upon meeting Ms. Ramonat all of their kind words were confirmed. Her enthusiasm and passion for her work at S.E.I. is contagious. After hearing what Ms. Ramonat does in her position in Enterprise Risk Management, I was able to sit in on a meeting between her and a fellow co-worker. Before the day ended we got to chat for a few minutes about life at Princeton.

“Princeterning” at S.E.I. over Spring Break was certainly a positive experience that has helped to inform my decision of which career path I would be most interested in pursuing after graduation. I would like to thank everyone, especially Ms. Ramonat, for making this such a positive learning experience for me.

Sukriti Chadha ’15, Oliver Wyman

Sokriti-ChadhaI had the opportunity to attend a one-day Princeternship at the Oliver Wyman office in NYC with a few other Princeton students this spring. The Princeternship was designed to give us an introduction to what working at a consulting firm is like and to interact with people at the office.

The reason I applied for the Princeternship was the fact that so many people at Princeton gravitate toward consulting without having much of an insight about the role. From personal experience, even though I had been to many information sessions, I had a rather vague idea about it. I thought going to the office and seeing firsthand what the job entails would give me a better sense of whether I wanted to pursue consulting as a career.

First, we were given an office tour. It was refreshing to see that the office had so many open spaces and you could see people working in large groups. The entire place exuded collaboration and team work. After that, we met our host, Mr. Kirk Saari ’99, who is a Partner at the firm and took the time to speak with us. He talked about the differences between strategic consultants and implementation consultants and how the two bridge the gap between big picture advice and the detailed execution. Oliver Wyman essentially does strategic consulting in various fields such as retail, financial services, automotive and healthcare.

It was fun talking to Mr. Saari since he was very direct about sharing his thoughts and opinions about most things. Before going for the Princeternship, I had the impression that consulting firms have a formal bureaucratic structure. Spending time at the office and observing the comfort level amongst the people we met made me realize that the firm has an open culture and values individual opinions.

After this, we were introduced to other team members who talked about the case interview method and practiced a case with us. During lunch, we discussed some cases that consultants had worked on and asked questions ranging from how they worked on specific cases to work-life balance. Consulting is a great choice, especially at the beginning of your career if you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself into a specific industry. It is for people who like variety. You get to work with different teams in various industries and travel to different locations. And because of the nature of the job, you get an opportunity to make a huge impact right at the onset of your career since you are essentially interacting with clients who are at top positions at their own firms. In short, it never gets boring!

Abbas Haider, Oliver Wyman

Haider-AbbasOn Friday 21st March, Princeton alumni Kirk Saari ‘99 hosted a one-day Princeternship for ten current Princeton Undergraduates at the Management Consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

The purpose of the Princeternship was to orient the students to consulting as a profession, to provide insight into the recruitment process and the lives of consultants. The day was divided into several sessions each hosted by different alumni. There was a session, which provided an introduction to consulting and what the job is all about. This was followed by a demo on what consulting interviews consist of and a discussion on real life cases dealt by Oliver Wyman. To cap the Princeternship off, there was a networking lunch with all the alumni.

Overall the experience was very enlightening and helpful. All the alums were very honest. They were open to any and all questions as long as they did not violate any legal contracts!

The Princeternship answered a lot of questions. Primarily it burst this big bubble about consulting interviews and consulting as a career. Some of the findings were very much contrary to what I had imagined them to be. For example, I had imagined the office environment to be very uptight and formal. To my surprise, the dress code was business casual and there was more of an entrepreneurial and innovative work environment – certainly something very different than what I had expected.

The best part of the Princeternship for me was the mock consulting interview that one of the alumnus ran with us. The students were divided into two groups and we were given a previous interview question. Each group worked together for a few minutes and then presented their solution. Eventually, the alumnus gave us feedback and walked us through the actual solution. Personally, I felt the exposure greatly beneficial. I had heard a lot of different rumors about consulting interviews and now I have firsthand experience.

My advice to future Princeterns is that they should definitely apply for a Princeternship if they find one of interest. Some specific research and questions before the Princeternship really help. I realized that the alums were very honest and this is a great chance to get those minute questions answered that are at times harder to ask at info sessions or career fairs.

Personally I really enjoyed the Princeternship and would like to thank Career Services for taking up this initiative. I would really encourage other students to make the most of these opportunities, as they can be extremely helpful and informative.

Peter Xing ’16, Phasic Strategy

Peter-XingOver Spring Break, I had the good fortune to spend a day visiting the offices of Phasic Strategy in New York. Phasic Strategy is a healthcare consulting firm providing strategic decisions and support for large pharmaceutical companies worldwide, and Carlos Rodriguez ’09 was kind enough to host this Princeternship. I was quite unsure what to expect from the experience, as this was my first Princeternship. However, I left Phasic thoroughly impressed with both Carlos and Phasic Strategy, having learned a great deal from him about the healthcare industry, consulting as a whole, and the kinds of questions and thought processes that consultants employ in tackling problems. I am very grateful to Carlos for being so accommodating and willing to teach me about his field.

My day at Phasic Strategy began at 9 am, when I met Carlos at the office, on the corner of Vanderbilt Ave and 45th Street in midtown New York. Immediately, he directed me to a desk right next to his, where I would do my work for the day. First, Carlos explained to me what Phasic is, and what it does. Phasic Strategy is a small pharmaceutical consulting firm within a parent company called Datamonitor Healthcare, which is itself a part of the Datamonitor and the overarching company Informa. Phasic Strategy provides several different services to clients, including strategy optimization, competitor simulations, and scenario planning, to allow its clients, usually top ten global pharmaceutical companies, to make appropriate decisions in developing and marketing its products.

After giving me an overview of the company and the industry, essentially outlining the problem, Carlos then explained to me his role as a consultant. To properly be able to advise clients, it is important for a consultant to learn as much about the industry of the client; for pharmaceutical companies, this involves knowing a great deal about various drugs, competing companies, and the process of getting FDA approval for products, among other details. Carlos showed me a few of the resources at his disposal and some of the things he needs to address to have adequate understand and research for the particular project. Prior to this, I had no idea how much expertise consultants needed to gain to be able to do their job and advise clients. I was pretty surprised at how much Carlos knew about various different drugs and companies from his research across different projects.

My big task for the day was tackling a case study on a relatively small pharmaceutical company.  I had to perform my own research much like a consultant does and create a presentation incorporating the information I found. I had to dig for details about the company: its products, its financial reports, where the majority of its revenues came from, the overall industry market, and various other information. To do this, I utilized many of the resources that Carlos had introduced to me earlier; it was like performing a condensed version of the research and work that he would normally do throughout his work on a project. I started in the morning, and during lunch, Carlos went more into detail about his experiences and his takeaways from them, from when he was still at Princeton to his current position.

When we got back Xing 1to the office after lunch, I continued working on the presentation and research. Carlos took a break to help me look over my work, and we had a talk about what the research I found could mean in terms of a client. He asked me thought provoking questions to get me to find the answers myself, and I was forced to think as a consultant would in trying to provide strategy decisions for a client. I had never done a case study before, nor had I known that these were the types of questions that I needed to be asking as a consultant. Ultimately, I went back and finished the research and presented my work to Carlos at the end of the day. Again he challenged me to think about the research and its significance, and I was able to see the point behind all the research I had been doing throughout the day.

At the end of the day, after I had presented all my work, Carlos showed me his own version of a similar case study that he had done a few years ago. As we went through his presentation, I was able to see the differences between my work and his and see what information was important to mention, and what key factors were in his deck. This I think is one of the most valuable parts in a day filled with firsts, because I was able to concretely see all the things we had talked about through the day that were key for doing a good job as a consultant.

Unfortunately, my Princeternship at Phasic Strategy was limited to just one day. However, in that one day, Carlos served as a mentor in teaching me about the industry and in providing advice for a student potentially interested in consulting as a career. For someone who had only known what consulting was in a general fashion, this was an eye-opening experience into the nitty gritty details of what the work specifically entailed. Again, I want to thank Carlos and Career Services for giving me the opportunity to scratch the surface of consulting.