An Undergraduate’s Journey in Financial Analysis

By: Staff
Two women stand smiling at the camera.

Caitlyn Walsh ‘24 (left) and Kate Michelini ‘24 (right) at the 2022 Undergraduate Women in Investing Conference.

By Caitlyn Walsh ’24

Upon my arrival at Cornell University in September 2020, I chose biometry and statistics as my major because I have always enjoyed math and quantitative analysis. At that time, terms such as P/E ratio, EBITDA, and even income statement were completely foreign to me. While I enjoyed my statistics classes and considered careers in that industry, the more exposure I had to business classes, the more I realized that my true interests revolved around financial analysis, causing me to shift my career focus.

Exposure to Investment Research

Being a part of the gymnastics team shaped my four years at Cornell University. The extensive alumni network of Cornell University gymnastics is always willing to offer career advice and guidance. After an internship in data analysis was not what I expected, I sought advice from alumni, which led to an amazing opportunity to work at a hedge fund during the summer after my sophomore year. This allowed me to learn from a wide variety of professionals in the industry. I watched the analysts on my team use factors like the macroenvironment, consumer sentiment, company history, and management outlook to make predictions about a stock.

Diving into the Investment World

Once I arrived back at Cornell University, I looked for ways to grow my knowledge of the investment world. I attended the Undergraduate Women in Investing (WIN) Conference, where I networked with dozens of professionals and gained knowledge on how to succeed as a woman in the field. I also applied for Scott Stewart‘s Equity Investment and Analysis class, where I learned about the basics of fundamental research. The main projects for the class were an industry review and a stock report. While these tasks seemed daunting, the main projects were broken down into manageable smaller assignments. Each week, we received advice and guidance so that we ended up with something we could take pride in. I learned how to dive deeper into my research and realized that the process is not exactly linear. There is always more to discover about a company, and finding pieces that enhance my grasp of its story is very rewarding. At the conclusion of the class, I was given the chance to be a teaching assistant, and for the short time I have been doing so, it has been gratifying to share my knowledge with others. Additionally, when Stewart offered us the opportunity to join the Cayuga Fund, I was excited to accept.

Cayuga Fund Experience

As the Cayuga Fund is a student-managed fund, students have a significant amount of responsibility. Each group of students manages a different sector, but we collectively make decisions on stock selections, portfolio weights, and other management tasks. The fund mirrors real-world analyst practices, as we are following and updating reports about a single stock for a full year. It was rewarding to update my model, estimates, and thesis just as an analyst would. I also completed an academic research project with a classmate. Drawing inspiration from a recent Cayuga Fund alumnus, my classmate and I explored how an analyst’s gender affects the returns of their stock recommendations, and we assessed the significance of gender diversity in these returns. In the most recent semester, we joined the MBA students in the Cayuga Fund. As an undergraduate student, joining the Cayuga Fund gave me the opportunity to learn from peers with significant work experience. My eyes opened to how having different professional backgrounds can strengthen a team working toward a common goal.

What Is Next?

As I near the end of my investment journey at Cornell University, I am excited to share that I am going to be joining Citi as an equity research associate this July. During my internship last summer, I was drawn to the dynamic nature of the work and the prospect of becoming an expert in a specific industry. I appreciate how valuing a company involves a diverse skill set, including reading, writing, modeling, and engaging with management. I developed a deeper understanding of what is required to be successful in the investment research industry through my professional experience last summer and through my time in the Cayuga Fund. I am grateful for both experiences, and I am excited for the opportunity to grow in my knowledge when I return to Citi full-time.

About Caitlyn Walsh ’24

Headshot of Caitlyn Walsh.

Caitlyn Walsh is a fourth-year undergraduate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell. She is majoring in statistics (with a finance concentration) and minoring in business. She is a part of the health care team and the energy and materials team in the Cayuga Fund. On campus, Walsh is on the varsity gymnastics team and is a member of the Red Key Athlete Honor Society. Prior to joining the Cayuga Fund, she completed an internship with Stormborn Capital Management (focused on the consumer sector) during the summer after her sophomore year. In 2023, Walsh worked as an equity research summer associate at Citi and will return full-time in July.