Elon in NYC: Michael Rodriguez wins on Wall Street

Students in Elon University's Elon in New York City domestic summer internship program take a four-credit-hour course called "The Streets of New York City" that requires them to study the Big Apple from the ground level so that they may develop a deeper and richer understanding of the city in which they'll live and intern until Aug. 6.

Before landing in New York, the 29 students had to choose a street, neighborhood or region of the city that they would want to examine for the duration of their summers. They’ll research the history of the area, talk to people who live or work there and generally observe the action and surroundings. At the end of the program, they’ll produce an ethnographic study that will detail their specific corner of Manhattan.

Helping them through their projects and providing unique insights about the bustling city are four faculty members, all of whom spend two focused weeks with the students. The story that follows details assistant professor of marketing Michael Rodriguez’s portion of the course.


Last year’s Elon in NYC program learned about Madison Avenue, about Broadway, about the history of the city. But there was one important, missing component: Wall Street.

The students, who were spending their summers in what’s arguably the business capital of the world, didn’t receive any targeted instruction about the business side of the city. So this year, Associate Provost Connie Book contacted marketing professor Michael Rodriguez, a 14-year veteran of Wall Street, to join the program.

“Connie Book gave me a call to see if I could help with the program, and it seemed like a pretty good fit, a pretty good balance to the program,” Rodriguez said. “They needed someone from the business background, and it was easy for me to reach out to my contacts and coordinate meetings.”

Rodriguez said his two weeks will provide the students with a couple of different perspectives. The first is what it’s like to work on Wall Street, and the second is what it’s like to live Wall Street.

On the first Monday, students will tour the New York Stock Exchange and learn how Wall Street has evolved during the last decade. Rodriguez will bring in a former managing director of JPMorgan, who now manages his own technology firm, to talk to the students about the change from simple human trading to a system that’s now more reliant on technology.

Students will also meet a partner from an accounting firm, who will talk about how to succeed in New York in the finance industry, and a head of a recruiting firm in the Chrysler building.

“He’s going to talk about how to prepare for interviews and how to prepare for jobs in the city: how to dress, how to have successful interviews,” Rodriguez said. “He’ll tell them how you have to prepare and how to compete against born and raised New Yorkers.”

In the second week, a senior sales person from the Trump Organization will talk about how real estate has changed in New York, and the students will take a tour of Fordham University’s MBA program. Later in the day, Rodriguez will introduce the students to Hoboken, N.J., and Jersey City, N.J., because he also wants them to learn how to live and where to live, if they plan to begin careers in New York following their graduation.

Finally, Rodriguez will also bring in a celebrity event planner because he noticed a number of the students in the program were interested in event planning.

“My job is to talk about Wall Street and business,” Rodriguez said, “but I also wanted to line up students’ interests with a career that would pertain to that.”

Rodriguez, who teaches Principles of Marketing, Professional Selling and Customer Relationship Management, says he’s a little anxious about shepherding 29 students around the city, but he’s also excited about the opportunity.

“It gets a little nervous getting around New York,” said Rodriguez, who is entering his third year at Elon. “But I’m looking forward to doing this. I think it’ll be a good event.”