Whitman NYC Intern Persevered Through the Pandemic
In the last issue of Whitman magazine, we profiled students who were taking part in the inaugural semester of the Whitman School’s NYC Abroad program, an experience that allows students to intern and study in the Big Apple. Shortly after the magazine went to press, the pandemic hit New York City hard, quickly changing circumstances for these Whitman students. But, thanks to some innovation and support, some of the interns were still able to complete their experiences. Here’s an update on one such student, Sarah Boulos ’21, who worked at Goldman Sachs in the summer of 2020.
“It was a crazy time,” says Boulos of when the pandemic hit New York City, shutting everything down so rapidly. “Everything crumbled to pieces. Little by little, fewer people showed up in the office. By mid-March, the company announced that if you weren’t essential, you should stay home.”
For three days after that, Boulos stayed holed up in her Manhattan apartment, trying to finish out the week. Her parents, both medical professionals, drove to New York City to take her back to her hometown of Fayetteville, New York, just outside of Syracuse.
“It was a very ominous time,” she says. “My dad is a physician at Crouse Hospital’s ER in Syracuse. He knew what was going on in New York City and thought we might be facing the same back home.” (In fact, when Sarah moved back home with her siblings, her parents moved into her brother’s downtown Syracuse apartment in order to be closer to the hospital and not risk exposing their children. They didn’t return home until May.)
When Boulos left New York City, she still had six weeks left at Goldman Sachs. Fortunately, the company let her stay on virtually, and she continued her work from home.
“I stayed on full-time. Considering everything that was going on, the company was very busy. But they kept in touch with me, and we had team calls every morning,” she says. “I wasn’t left in the dark, which really speaks to how the team operated.”
“So many things were running through my head at the time — Am I going to get hired? The economy is tanking, so what does this mean for me and my job?” she says. “It was a very scary time.”
Still, she persevered and was able to complete her internship virtually. However, she moved back to New York City at the end of May to begin an online internship with Morgan Stanley that she had accepted months prior.
“My parents weren’t huge fans of the idea of me going back, but, at that point, I just had to live my life. I knew I would be smart about it,” she says, noting that her sister had also returned to New York City.
“Luckily, Morgan Stanley wanted to honor the contract that interns had signed months prior. The company did cut the program from 10 to six weeks, but they worked very hard to make the summer possible,” she says, noting that she virtually did prime brokerage client coverage, working with hedge fund clients and supporting trade operations for Morgan Stanley.
“New York City slowly came back to life,” she says. “Retail began to open, as did outdoor dining. People started going outside more. Monday through Friday, I worked out of my apartment, and on weekends my sister and I would take long walks and grab some dinner. I just tried to stay busy.”
In August, Boulos returned to the Whitman School to finish her senior year in a hybrid format of classes that switched between online and in-person. She knows all the trials of working in New York City during a pandemic and completing her internships virtually were well worth it, as she recently accepted a full-time position in equity research with Goldman Sachs following her spring 2021 graduation.
“Hopefully, we’ll be back in the office by then,” she says of her new job. “But, in the meantime, I still have my senior year.”
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