The hippie in the city: Charlotte Coffin talks interning at JP Morgan

by Charlotte Coffin

I grew up in rural Northern California and am a hippie at heart.  I never thought I’d find myself working for a large corporate bank, but life is strange and full of surprises.  Last summer I spent ten weeks working for one of the largest banks in the world. When I told my friends and neighbors back home that I was going to work for a bank, I kept hearing, “What?! Banks are EVIL!” and  “Are you selling out to corporate America?!” Not entirely funny, because that is how I was feeling as well. In spite of this, I went into the experience with hope that it would be something new and entirely different. I decided that since it was something so foreign to me, it was something that I had to try, and so I did. While in some respects, the internship was exactly what me and my neighbors back home and I thought it was going to be, I still gained invaluable skills.

Pace Career Services introduced me to JP Morgan through a scheduled visit. I was impressed with JP Morgan’s solid dedication for technology improvements, and I decided to, at least, apply for the job. Svetlana (awesome Seidenberg career counselor) helped me, and I sent in an application. A couple of weeks later, I got a call asking me to schedule two back-to-back phone interviews: one behavioral and one technical. Each was half an hour, and fairly straightforward. After that, I didn’t hear much for a while, but I was eventually offered the job, and I accepted.

The semester ended and soon the 10 week internship began. I learned it was to be team-based project work. Each team of interns was assigned to a manager within a specific division of JP Morgan.  Next each manager gave his or her team a project to complete over the course of the ten weeks. In addition to a manager, each intern was matched with a mentor: a recent college graduate working full time within the firm.

Throughout the summer there were various speakers, workshops, networking events, and even a firm-wide hackathon designed for the interns. I got to go to a talk about quantum computing in FinTech, as well as other talks about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. I also got to speak to all sorts of people about why they like working at JP Morgan. All of this was intended to help us get a feel for what it would be like to work at JP Morgan.  At the end of the ten weeks, we presented our work in. and people from within the firm came to hear about it. We set up booths with demonstrations of our work, and people came up to us to ask questions. We explained what we had been working on over the past 10 weeks.

I was on a team of four interns working with big data in the back office. Our job was to speed up data aggregation on an internal company application designed only for JP Morgan employees to use. Using  big data technologies such as Hadoop, Apache Spark, Hbase, and Hive, we migrated an oracle database into a Hadoop environment. Next we used software called Apache Kylin to pre-aggregate the data in an OLAP cube so that queries would run faster. After extensive testing, we demonstrated a 99% speed up. This solution worked because the relevant data rarely changed, and was mostly just read, not written to.

Overall, I learned a lot about what it was like to be at one of the largest corporations in the world. I like that I was able to network with so many people, and understand more about how banking works. I also liked really knowing what it is like to work a full day, every day, 9-5, Monday through Friday. I learned how important it is to me to work for a company where I believe in the mission. (Very! -no matter how nice the pay is!), and I learned that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life sitting in a corner coding. I like interacting with people and collaborating and really learning about the world around me. I also want to feel  like the work I do matters and affects people positively. My summer at JP Morgan was enlightening; I learned a bit about banking and quite a bit about myself, the world, and what I want in the future.


Charlotte Coffin is a student of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University. She is taking the BS in Computer Science, and will graduate in 2019. Her interests are in Quantum Computing among other things and she is co-President of the Seidenberg School’s Women in Technology club.

Author: Katie Todd

Katie Todd is Assistant Director of Communications and Strategic Operations at Pace University's Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.