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Why HMC?: The Students Who Work for Harvard's Endowment

Escaping the brisk autumn air one sleepy Wednesday evening, a few dozen Harvard students file into the Theatre Room at the Faculty Club, enjoying the art-covered walls and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. At the front of the room, a projection screen sits, ready for use.

The gathering is not academic: the smartly dressed professionals standing at the head of the room, the glossy handouts plastered with buzzwords like “opportunity” and “dynamic” on every seat, and the semi-formal attire of the students all mark the event as a recruiting presentation.

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston - HMC Office
Harvard Management Company is housed in the Boston Federal Reserve building.

Many employers recruit Harvard students on campus, but this presentation is different. The handouts carry the University’s seal and the company carries the University’s name: the Harvard Management Company.

Founded in 1974, HMC invests Harvard’s $36.4 billion endowment—the largest of any educational institution in the world—through a hybrid system, managing about 40 percent of total assets internally. In fiscal year 2014, the endowment distributed $1.5 billion, or 5.6 percent of its value, to support University operations, including financial aid and research.

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Though HMC currently employs 23 University alumni among its more than 200 person staff, there has been a recent effort to have more Harvard students in its ranks, Emily Guadagnoli, a communications specialist for HMC, wrote in an email to The Crimson. HMC actively recruits Harvard undergraduate students on campus for full-time and internship positions, recently adding term-time and J-term options.

Through these renewed efforts, HMC has established itself as a unique alternative to more traditional finance internships, offering students an educational introduction to financial employment and an opportunity to further the University’s mission.

AN EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY

Though HMC participates in Harvard’s On Campus Interview program—through which a select few companies and financial institutions like Amazon, Facebook, and Goldman Sachs travel to campus to interview students—HMC is unique among this group for its inclusion of underclassmen students and what some describe as its educational focus through its smaller internship class.

As far as internships go, most financial institutions seek students in the summer after their junior year for a tryout for post-graduation employment, according to Deborah Carroll, associate director for employer relations and operations at the Office of Career Services.

“Employers use the junior internship essentially as a 10-week, mutual interview to see if someone is the right fit and hopefully give them a full time job,” she said. “Which does mean that for freshmen and sophomores it can be a lot harder to connect with an organization or to feel like you are eligible for an internship.”

Internships at HMC—according to Carroll, the only university endowment that participates in OCI, since the MIT Investment Management Company stopped coming to campus a couple of years ago—are less structured, giving students the opportunity to work at a high-level financial institution after their freshman or sophomore year with what interns said was competitive compensation.

Jiayi Peng ’17, one of the four Harvard undergraduate interns at HMC this past summer, noted this rare opportunity at HMC amidst a relative lack of finance internship options after freshman year.

“I was really, really lucky to get this internship,” she said.

HMC: Rebecca Y. Hu '16
Rebecca Y. Hu '16 worked at HMC last summer.

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