Roanoke student interns at prestigious financial firm

Kayvon Sarmadi ’10 interns at UBS Financial Services

Kayvon Sarmadi, who will be graduating from Roanoke College in December with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a marketing concentration, has been spending his summer interning for UBS, a global financial services firm that boasts it "offers a combination of wealth management, asset management and investment banking services." The local branch is based in Buckhead, an uptown district of Atlanta, Georgia. Sarmadi says Buckhead "is the nicest part of the city by far, and the building I work in is particularly nice."

Sarmadi interns for two brokers at UBS, Brandon Reynolds '00, who is a Roanoke graduate, and Dan Boland, who attended St. John's University and Harvard Law School. Reynolds also was a business administration major and credits a networking opportunity at Roanoke with much of his success into the business world. He said one Roanoke alumni, whom he met through an event at Roanoke, introduced him to the world of finance and "showed him the ropes" through work at Bear Stearns. Reynolds left Bear Stearns after five years for his current job at UBS as a financial advisor. Boland, who previously worked as a lawyer representing financial firms, transitioned to UBS as a financial advisor in 2006. He says that by that year, there had been a "lull in the field" of financial litigation and decided to take a different path toward more investment-related work, sending out resumes until he landed at UBS.

As an intern, Sarmadi begins his day by checking business and financial websites to see what is going on and to look for new business opportunities. He also researches different equities and bonds and "lets the brokers know which ones I think are the best fit for the client who is looking to invest, depending on what his or her financial goals are." Boland says that Sarmadi will "evaluate and sort through investment options" while also providing advisors with portfolio proposals based on his research. Reynolds adds that Sarmadi also has been "instrumental" in reinventing some of the marketing tools that allow some "controlled growth" for the business as well.

Sarmadi accompanies Boland and Reynolds to meetings and conferences, giving him a chance to see how other aspects of the business are handled. He says that sometimes he is an observer during meetings, but more often than not, he likes to jump right in, participating and asking questions. Reynolds says that this internship has "given Kayvon insight into what it's like to be in this business."

Reynolds says that he reached out to Roanoke's office of career services to find someone interested in interning at UBS and to "give them the opportunity to see inside the business." Boland adds that the responsibility given to an intern directly corresponds with the relationship between the advisor and the intern; in Sarmadi's case, Boland says that he is "doing great."

Sarmadi says that, although he heard about the internship from career services, he took it upon himself to find out more. He says, "I didn't wait to apply. I just found the right person to call and picked up the phone." He says he sent a cover letter before the phone call and also made sure to follow up on the call a few times, as he knew there were several candidates vying for the position.

Sarmadi says that his experience at UBS is "definitely an internship that is geared to making a successful person in the business, rather than having someone to go get coffee like interns at a lot of other places sometimes have to do." He says that he has the opportunity to perform everyday tasks of an actual advisor, such as "researching a liquidity event, finding a fund to fit a client's need or helping to create an entire portfolio for a client and determining the proper asset allocation."

Reynolds says that although the purpose of the internship is learning, perhaps the most important goal for Sarmadi is to have fun. He says "at the end of the day, if you don't enjoy what you're doing, it'll be a stressful time," no matter the occupation. Reynolds says the most valuable aspect of an internship, other than providing access to contacts, references and networking opportunities, is the exposure to a potential career.

Boland agrees, and adds that through an internship, "people get to know the intern's capabilities," especially since it's often difficult to become successful immediately after graduation. He describes an internship as a "three-month interview." Reynolds adds that in college, it is vital for a student to "put him/herself in an 'office environment' to understand the culture of the workplace." He says this experience could save a student several unhappy years if he or she finds that the job is not what it initially seemed.

Sarmadi says that although classes at Roanoke have prepared him for the real world, he also has learned a lot from hands-on experiences. "Roanoke has taught me a lot about hard work and has shown me ways to stand out in a crowd," he says. However, he adds that he owes much of his success to his father, who "taught me everything I know about business." Sarmadi says his internship has been very valuable, not only as a learning opportunity with successful businessmen, but also in providing him access to resources and networking opportunities.

Released: August 6, 2010