The Concrete Jungle
Josh is a third year Politics student at Ulster University with a keen interest in international relations and conflict resolution. He is involved in the social enterprise business, Madlug, where he has been working to establish blog campaigns to raise awareness of the struggles of young people in care. He has also volunteered with Christian Aid in raising awareness on climate change, writing articles for local newspapers and briefing papers for politicians. An active member of his church, Josh is on the youth committee and involved in planning various programs throughout the year. He has a history of political activism, being involved in the Vote Leave campaign and the local Conservative Party. Josh believes in changing political attitudes in Northern Ireland to create a more cohesive and inclusive society.
July 3, 2017
Last week, the WIP class of 2017 headed north to New York City for a week of immersive learning in, arguably, the business and financial capital of the world. Braced for an incredibly hectic but enriching week, we began our journey on Sunday 25th June, arriving in the ‘concrete jungle’, to quote Alicia Keys, after a 5-hour fun-filled bus journey. Despite the relatively short distance from Washington, New York is another world with its endless labyrinth of skyscrapers and bright lights. In the ‘city that never sleeps’ it was somewhat necessary for us to embrace this adage, knowing we had an absolutely packed week of incredible experiences ahead.
To go into the finer details of everything we got up to in New York would be akin to writing something like a dissertation and having spent much of the last 3 months doing just that at university, I won’t embark on such a project on this occasion. To give you just a flavour of what we experienced, some of the organisations we had the pleasure of interacting with included; Goldman Sachs, The American Bank – Merrill Lynch, PWC, the Irish Embassy and many more. The focus of the week was twofold. Firstly, the focus was heavily on career within the context of looking within ourselves, looking out at the different sectors and looking forward to the future. This was achieved by exposing us to some of the world’s largest firms and organisations and how they fit within our own individual contexts. Secondly, we were there to help lay the roots of WIP’s future in New York, where it plans to branch out more extensively from next year on.
Personally, my highlight was our morning on the 51st floor of Goldman Sachs. We were treated to a wonderful breakfast and networking session with some of the most breathtaking views you could imagine, overlooking the famous New York skyline and Hudson River on the most beautiful morning. We were generously hosted by Adrian Jones, a Partner at Goldman Sachs in New York and Co-Head of the Americas Equity Business. Adrian has strong connections to Ireland, having grown up in Roscommon and served in the Irish Military. During our breakfast and networking session, Adrian called me over and said he wanted to talk to me about Brexit. Having read my bio, he was intrigued about my decision to vote to leave in last year’s EU referendum. We spent the next 20 minutes discussing European history and the future of the EU overlooking the gleaming New York City. This was a personal highlight of my time in New York. It was an extraordinary privilege to get access in such a setting to a man with such influence in an organization like Goldman Sachs and turned out to be one of many such occasions that WIP organised for us during the week.
After breakfast, I had the opportunity to chair a panel discussion with 3 young Irish graduates who had been working at Goldman Sachs in New York for the past number of years. They spoke to us about the organisation and their journeys to such a career. It was interesting to note how it wasn’t necessary to have a specific finance degree to get a graduate job there, which certainly made the session relevant for a lot of the class. After this, I got to introduce Adrian to the class before he came to speak to us. This opportunity of chairing the discussion and introducing Adrian was significant for me personally in that I have always struggled with public speaking and so to be speaking at Goldman Sachs, overlooking the financial capital of the world was somewhat symbolic of the progress I have made with WIP and something I will never forget. Adrian’s talk itself was the most engaging and relevant talk we had during the week. He had clearly taken significant time and effort to prepare some useful and relevant words of wisdom on personal and professional development, which really illustrated his respect and appreciation for the purpose of WIP. He even gave us a list of recommended readings that many of us will no doubt delve into over the next few months.
We went on to enjoy similarly enriching experiences during the rest of our time in New York, returning to D.C. very tired but also with a wealth of learning experience under our belts and, also, the foundations of a network in New York that will likely come to be important for some of the class in their future careers. Returning to Washington, I felt fulfilled and excited for the future. Having returned to our workplaces and the WIP curriculum this week, I feel motivated to make the most of the final 3 weeks of the program. It has been an experience of a life time so far and I am looking forward to the opportunities and experiences that are coming.