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Senior Jerome Hughes takes on Wall Street

By Debbie Griffith

Jerome Hughes

Jerome Hughes ’10 found an internship at Goldman Sachs in New York City.

For Senior Jerome Hughes the summer of 2009 was culture shock.

One fine day last May, Hughes was saying goodbye for the summer to his classmates in Rhoades-Robinson computer science lab. The next day he was on the 32nd floor of the Goldman Sachs tower in lower Manhattan with a view of the Statue of Liberty and the Hudson River.

He was living the dream, for sure.

Hughes’ was not your ordinary UNC Asheville summer vacation. After scouring the Internet for the perfect summer internship, he and his father, Jerome Hughes Sr., a teacher at Asheville High School, found Sponsors for Educational Opportunities (SEO). The non-profit organization enables talented college students of color to pursue their dreams and land top jobs in some of the most competitive career paths imaginable—corporate law, asset management, investment banking.

Wall Street

“It was just a wild world,” said Hughes of his New York City adventure. “Every day it was a faster pace. The trading floor of the Stock Exchange was like I had imagined it, only more chaotic. I don’t see how people can get their work done with all the stuff that’s going on, all the shouting and people running around. It was an unreal experience, and I couldn’t believe I was a very small part of something so big. I can’t wait to get back.”

Jerome used his computer science background to work on a team at Goldman Sachs in the Private Wealth Management Division. “People don’t realize how much investment banking depends on the technology side. And I found out that in the finance world you need a good understanding of the business side of things even before you learn how to apply the technology to business. It’s the combination of that kind of knowledge that leads to success.”

“The theme seems to be personal, portable technology that allows people to share their experiences with their friends via the Internet and social networks.”

— Jeff Brown, director of user services in Information Technology

Indeed, it was a set of combined skills that Hughes thinks gave him an advantage in securing the internship in New York City. “I’d done an internship with NEMAC (the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center) at UNC Asheville last semester and learned a lot about data and databases so that was a great foundation for this Goldman internship.”

And what was Hughes’ most memorable experience in the Big Apple? It wasn’t the 90-minute bus and subway commute from Teaneck, N.J., every morning, and it wasn’t the bustle of midtown. It was the people.

“Talking directly to senior managers at Goldman, at some of the other big companies like UBS, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, they were so approachable and so helpful. They really cared.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll have a job offer from Goldman in the next two weeks, and I can’t wait to get back to New York. But someday I really want to come back to my hometown—I love Asheville.”

EDITORS’ NOTE: Hughes did indeed get that job offer and will leave UNC Asheville for his first job on Wall Street next year. He’s accepted a position with Goldman Sachs.

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