Analyst at NewOak Capital, New York
Bjoern Weidlich moved to New York last May to be an unpaid intern at a boutique investment bank. With no proof of income he was forced to prepay six months’ worth of rent, leaving him with $100 to his name. It was a relatively inauspicious beginning to a career in finance.
Fortunately, the bank, NewOak Capital, which specializes in valuing portfolios of complex financial assets and provides litigation consulting and risk advisory services, hired him two months later as a full-time analyst.
Weidlich now works with some of the biggest banks in the world on litigation strategies involving mortgage-backed securities. Billions of dollars are at stake in these lawsuits, he notes.
"Working for a small firm, you’re given responsibility very quickly," he says. "You’re developing models that don’t exist yet; working nights, weekends. You have to hustle for the business, and once you’ve got the business you have to then come through for the clients."
Weidlich, whose work involves bond valuation, said the key to persevering in the high-stress environment is to "find good people who are interested in teaching you." And you have to learn fast.
"You’re pricing things that are worth millions, even billions, to the client. You have to explain [how you arrived at those valuations], and you have to hold your ground."
Weidlich is a native of Berlin, Germany, who moved to Maryland for his last two years of high school. As a student at Clark, he earned a Clark Barth Internship Award and used the scholarship money to travel to Kenya, where he helped a friend promote reforestation efforts among local schools and women's groups, a vital strategy to preserving water in sub-Saharan Africa. "It was a life-changing experience," he says.
Weidlich minored in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Clark and still harbors a desire to one day own a business, perhaps a web company. But for now he sees himself remaining in the financial world — albeit one that’s been altered since the heady pre-recession days.
"We arrived after the party," he says, "and we’re the clean-up committee."