Nittany Lion Fund experience helps student land dream Wall Street career

Emily Zheng reviews financial information in the Smeal College of Business Rogers Family Trading Room. The Trading Room is an advanced learning laboratory that replicates real world trading experience and provides access to 54 workstations, real-time tickers, and stock boards. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Emily Zheng—a dual major in Finance and Economics and a Schreyer Scholar—came to Penn State to prepare herself for a career in a fast-paced environment where she could make a significant impact. After learning more about the finance industry, she realized that investment banking could give her just what she was looking for. 

Over the course of her college career, Zheng gained extensive hands-on experience in investment banking through her roles with the Smeal College of Business' prestigious Nittany Lion Fund, which also helped land her an internship. Before graduation, she already had a full-time job waiting for her at Goldman Sachs—one of Wall Street's most well-known investment banking firms.

Through participation in the Nittany Lion Fund, Penn State students like Emily Zheng receive hands-on portfolio management experience to prepare them for careers on Wall Street. The Nittany Lion Fund is a student-managed investment fund with nearly $7 million in assets and is one of the few student-managed funds supported by actual investor money, not endowment dollars. Credit: Penn State

The Nittany Lion Fund

The Nittany Lion Fund is a student-managed investment fund with nearly $7 million in assets and is one of the few student-managed funds supported by actual investor money, not endowment dollars. 

Nittany Lion Fund students are immersed in the market. Starting with their hour-long classes held three times weekly in the Rogers Family Trading Room, members constantly discuss portfolio performance, market trends and next steps. 

"Because we do have outside investors, and it is their money, working on the fund teaches us real responsibility," explained Zheng, who spent her final year with the fund as president and director of investor relations. "We feel real accountability; you can see it all over our fund managers' faces when we're on the wrong side of a trade. I think that sets us apart and makes us very attractive and employable candidates on the job market." 

"Any time a team on a particular industry sector wants to make a trade, they have to present a pitch to the entire fund," said Zheng. "We don't actually act on an idea until we vote on it." 

Alumni on Wall Street

In addition to her Nittany Lion Fund experience, Zheng gives credit to the Penn State alumni network for helping connect her with her summer internship with Goldman Sachs, where she worked in the Investment Banking Division within the Financial Institutions Group. 

After her summer on Wall Street, Zheng was offered a full-time position with the company, to begin in 2015. She'll be joining a growing contingent of Penn State Nittany Lion Fund alumni working on Wall Street. 

Major institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch target Penn State students for recruitment, according to Randy Woolridge, professor of finance. "We have about 200 students who have graduated from the fund; about 95 percent of them get jobs on Wall Street," he said.

The Penn State experience

Zheng credits the totality of her Penn State experience for what she's learned and will carry with her as she begins her career at Goldman Sachs. 

"The education you can receive here is one of the best, and rankings will tell you that," she said. "But here, we get far more than that. Penn State provides you with a lifestyle. It's a way of learning, a way of treating other people; it's a way of life where you're equitable in every relationship you have and you treat everyone like family." 

She continued, "For me, 'May no act of ours bring shame' has truly been something that has guided me in the ethicality of what I've tried to do here, and I know it will be a guiding factor for me in business in the future."

Nittany Lion Fund students use the Rogers Family Trading Room to manage their nearly $7 million dollar investment fund, which is supported by actual investor money. About 95 percent of all Nittany Lion Fund alumni have landed jobs on Wall Street. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated February 02, 2015