Student summer spotlight: From wolves to Wall Street

Tuesday, Jul 16, 2019

The connection between skills that can be developed during separate internships at a wildlife center and a finance firm may be tough to reconcile for most, but Erik Peters has a plan.

Peters, a rising junior majoring in economics and pursuing a certificate in environmental studies, constructed his summer to explore two distinct interests—conservation and finance. In this Q&A, Erik talks about his internships, what he hopes to get out of the experiences and how they relate to his career goals.

What are your summer plans?

Currently, I am an intern at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center (CWWC). In August I will head to New York City to join Wall Street Access for a five-week internship as a summer analyst.

What do those positions entail?

As an intern at the CWWC, my responsibilities are wide-ranging. On a daily basis, I lead educational tours to groups of more than 45 people, contribute towards an initiative to get Colorado wolf reintroduction on the 2020 ballot, tend to the sanctuary grounds, and interact with and care for our animals. A highlight of my day is leading small groups inside our wolf and fox enclosures for face-to-face interactions.
 
After graduation I plan on pursuing a career in investment banking. Although the CWWC may seem a world away from Wall Street, at this internship I am developing interpersonal skills, sustained focus during long working hours and composure in high-pressure environments. I hope to leverage these transferable skills right away as I transition from CWWC to my second internship as a summer analyst at Wall Street Access. Here I will gain experience and financial fluency by working on SEC filings and conducting research and analysis for client financial planning and investment management.

How did you find your position(s)?

I have always had a passion for wildlife and conservation, and the CWWC is at the forefront of the field. I applied to their internship program wanting to get involved in the positive impact they make towards wolf education and protection in the United States. They are one of only twelve sanctuaries in the country with a prestigious Association of Zoos & Aquariums Accreditation, and presented a great opportunity for me to make a hands-on impact in wildlife conservation.
 
I also wanted to continue exploring my budding interest in finance and was fortunate to have the opportunity to leverage the Princeton lacrosse program’s incredible alumni network and support systems to connect me with Wall Street Access.

Erik Peters '21 with wolves Amarok and Koda.

Erik Peters '21 with wolves Amarok and Koda. 

What skills do you use in your work?

At the CWCC, I use many of the same skills that are in investment banking job profiles. Investment banking is known for long hours and at CWWC my day starts at 7 a.m. and typically does not end until 6 or 6:30 p.m., depending on the needs of the animals and/or sanctuary grounds that day.
 
Leading tours hones my interpersonal skills and quickly researching and familiarizing myself with wolf history, policy, protections and care utilizes the same research skills necessary for efficiently researching and memorizing financials and business conditions. Additionally, wolves are incredibly socially complex animals; first impressions are very important when interacting with them. Similar to people, wolves make longstanding judgments during initial interactions based on confidence and composure.
 
Through this experience, I have learned a lot about what I look for in a first impression and how I can appear confident even in an uncomfortable environment—whether that’s staring down a wolf face to face or speaking with a senior banker in an interview.

How is your experience either confirming or changing your career interests?

My experience has taught me that conservation and finance are not necessarily competing, but instead can be a part of the same big puzzle. I want to continue blending my interest in finance with my passion for wildlife and conservation by pursuing investment banking opportunities with a focus on renewables, natural resources and sustainable agriculture investment.