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A vault containing between six and nine billion dollars, the money stacked on tables and carts in small and large bills, was the star attraction of a three-day visit by three students to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Lindsay Yee '02, Silvia Veltcheva '03 and Michael Kotov '03 shadowed Michael H. Moskow '59, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, and other employees during an externship in January.

“I think it was a full three days,” Moskow says. “The students indicated that they got a lot out of it.” He calls the externship “a chance to learn about the central bank and to see the institution operate. The students saw how we compare notes and what subjects we talk about, all insights into how any large organization operates. It has to find a way to get things done.” In addition, he says, the students learned about management styles.

The students also met William Ferguson '00, internal auditor for the Chicago Federal Reserve, and Edward Lane '74, president of book publishing services at RR Donnelley & Sons.

“I enjoyed going on the tour of the Fed, especially in the vault because I never saw so much money in cash in one place,” says Yee, an economics and business major. “I also enjoyed examining different counterfeit dollar bills and comparing them to the real ones.”

“All this money came from financial institutions and banks throughout the U.S.,” she says. “There were machines that go through the money and detect counterfeits and also check for the wear and tear of the dollar so new money can go into circulation. On the tour, we were also able to see the security systems and cameras.”

The externship included a tour of Chicago's Board of Trade and was packed with interesting people to meet and things to see and learn, as well as a chance to critique a speech made by Moskow.

It began with an introduction by Moskow, in which he reviewed the students' resumes and their interests, and proceeded to a meeting of top senior-level management in different areas of the nation's central bank.

After the vault tour, the students attended a luncheon of businessmen addressed by Moskow. They met the head of the Fed's research and statistics branch, and the director of supervision and regulation, which ensures a safe, efficient and fair banking system. They also visited a check operations center to see what happens when someone writes a check and it's sent to the Fed.

Yee says the externship related directly to her interest in finance, banking and investment management, and also to her career plans. She would like to work in a financial institution in one of those areas for a few years and then get her MBA.

“I didn't use any formulas that I learned from class in my externship, but I understood many economic terms and basic functions of the Fed,” Yee says. “When people spoke about the economy, I understood what they meant.”

She says she learned a lot from the experience, including how complex the Federal Reserve is. “The Fed is not just about interest rates and regulating monetary policy, but it is the 'banker's bank' for all financial institutions,” Yee adds.

“I think Mr. Moskow is a wonderful and important person to know,” Yee says. “He is very knowledgeable about the Fed. He has an important role because he helps determine Federal Open Market Committee policy with the other 11 Fed presidents and Chairman Alan Greenspan to determine monetary policy.”

Yee believes the externship program is a great opportunity for Lafayette students, providing insight into the alumnus' job and organization.

“It might open up new doors the student didn't know about it,” Yee says. “This exposure could lead students in a direction they may or may not want to pursue after seeing what it involves. The externship is a great way to meet contacts and network in a desired industry.”

Veltcheva, Kotov and Yee were among more than 160 students who participated in Lafayette's Alumni Externship program, in which students served two- to five-day externships with graduates who are seasoned professionals in business, the arts, education, healthcare, law, engineering, science, government, non-profits, and other fields.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles