My favorite quality of Mays students is their strong entrepreneurial spirit. They truly embody the Aggie core values and take full ownership of the programs in which they participate. I can find no better example of this entrepreneurial quality than with our Trading, Risk & Investments Program (TRIP) students this past fall.
In December 2013, a group of current TRIP students came to the program director and staff with a proposal on how TRIP’s enrichment activities could be improved for future students. After all, who better to help us evaluate our enrichment than the students themselves?
In the past, we spread out the enrichment activities over the three-year period to slowly build the students’ knowledge.Â You can imagine our surprise when the students suggested we incorporate the many enrichment activities into FINC 368, the required course for TRIP students during the first semester of the program.
The students’ reasoning was solid: TRIP is already designed to be intense. To get in the program, students must first complete the five-essay application and then survive the six hours of speed interviews. Why not continue that trend during the first critical year and really help the students see what markets-related finance is all about?
We valued the students’ insight and applauded their initiative in wanting to improve how we serve our students and board members. We collaborated with them to revamp our enrichment, revising standard activities and creating new ones. For the next group of students admitted in November 2013, TRIP Group 6, a crazy year was about to begin.
Since January, the Group 6 students have:
- Practiced their business dining etiquette during dinners with board members after class
- Presented in teams to fellow students and board members information they had learned in classesTraveled to Houston to participate in a group trading game hosted by a board member company
- Experienced the day-to-day operations of the corporate world by visiting trade floors
- Improved their technical skills by completing a one-day intensive training in Excel
- Worked in teams to compete in an all-groups BBQ cook-off
- Learned about the physical commodity side of trading during a week-long trip to board members’ assets, including power plants, a grain elevator, a metals facility and drilling rigs
- Increased their ability to make good decisions with a seminar devoted to critical thinking skills
- Shadowed with one of our board members to develop a trade strategy
Currently, Group 6 is busy preparing for their first of three annual presentation competitions. After the competition, they will loosen their ties for Casino Night and play poker and blackjack with our board members. The next evening, they will say farewell to Group 4 at the annual end-of-year banquet.
Enrichment continues into the fall semester, as Group 6 plans to:
- Team up with Group 5 students for an energy and private equity case competition
- Refine their golf games with a board-and-student tournament in November
- Enhance their Excel knowledge by completing VBA/macro training
By the time these Group 6 students head out on their first internship next spring or summer, they will have completed three years of enrichment activities in just one year since their TRIP interviews. It is an intense and busy year, but it well prepares students for the expectations our board members have of future employees.
On a related note, this time of year is always bittersweet as the students complete their final internships, finish TRIP, and move on to graduation and full-time employment. The program owes a big thank you to the Group 3/Group 4 student committee members who helped redesign and improve how we operate the enrichment function: Lance Lastovica ’14, Jim Gant ’14, Cory Hall ’13, Lindsey Cude ’13, Alex Faulk ’13, Andrew Brunkhorst ’13 and Michelle Horrocks ’12.
The Trading, Risk & Investments Program (TRIP) prepares students in the fields of trading, investments and risk management by combining exceptional class instruction with hands-on internship-based experience. Students will complete two paid internships with two different board member companies and graduate with at least an undergraduate degree (BBA Finance). TRIP is open to Texas A&M undergraduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Students apply for acceptance into the Trading, Risk & Investments Program (TRIP) during the fall semester, once they have earned 30 to 75 credit hours (depending on his/her degree plan).