Members of Commodity Investing by Students at Virginia Tech (COINS) recently took a road trip to New York City as part of an experiential learning experience. They met with leading companies in banking and commodities, many of whom employ alumni and previous members of the student organization.

Diego Negron Jimenez, a finance major and COINS' co-CEO, was excited about this trip. It was his first professional, in-person trip to New York City with the organization.

“It was an amazing opportunity, and I was so glad to be part of it,” he said.

As the first sophomore intern from Virginia Tech in Bank of America’s Investment Banking division, Negron Jimenez appreciated the diverse range of industries he was exposed to during the visit. 

“It helped me form a stronger bond with our alumni and company executives that we met with,” he said.

The 23 students immersed themselves in the work culture, got to see live trading rooms, and met in high-tech conference suites. Most importantly, they saw in action what they have been learning.

"Our trip was designed to maximize our analysts' exposure to alumni and their firms, and I think we met this objective and more. Relationships and connections were cultivated, and I have no doubt this will leave a lasting impact on them,” said Siddharth Mehta, a fintech major — which integrates finance, computer science and computation modeling, and data analytics — and COINS' co-CEO.

Olga Isengildina Massa, the program’s faculty advisor and the John B. and Kristi L. Rowsell Professor for the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, as well as Suddy Sriram '18, a private equity associate for Stonepeak, and students from the COINS executive team worked for months to plan the experience.

“Our goal is to be as helpful to the students of the program as possible,” said Sriram, who serves on COINS advisory board along with Bobby D’ Angelo ’19, Bret Hathaway '17, Sid Muralidhar '21, and Sarah McKay '16. 

COINS students in NYC. Photo courtesy of COINS.
Photo courtesy of COINS.

The trip concluded with students attending a networking event with alumni and company executives.

In the days following, Sriram followed up with the companies.

“They were extremely impressed with the students' advanced knowledge. The outreach has been tremendous. Alumni have been asking us, ‘How can I give back’ or ‘how can I schedule a video conference call with students,’” he said.

“Due to our member and alumni leadership and desire to give back, the program is working,” Massa said. “It’s not a class or academic exercise, it’s an organization for students created by students.”

Sriram firmly believes that students shouldn’t be afraid to leverage Virginia Tech’s network. The company representatives made the trip a powerful out-of-classroom experience for the students — made possible because of the program's alumni.

“I thank the companies and our alumni who work for them for making this trip so impactful for students,” Massa said.

The firms and alumni who participated included Citigroup, Timothy Maloney '17 and Sid Muralidhar '21; Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.; Balyasny Asset Management; Bank of America, Dan Kelly '18; MN8 Energy; Backbone, Chris Blair '19; Charter Communications, Chris Eyestone '17; Orion Infrastructure Capital, Karen Vejseli '96; and Stonepeak, Suddy Sriram '18.

Learning by doing is what makes COINS — the only student-managed commodity fund in the U.S. managing a portfolio of more than $1 million — so unique. These experiences expose members to potential internship opportunities and employment after graduating and are an example of why the organization boasts a 100 percent job placement rate.

COINS plans to host more trips in the near future. Recruitment begins this fall and students who are interested may visit the program’s website for details. 

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