The Language of Business

By: Jonathan Markowicz

Learning the “language of business” these first three weeks of classes has been like taking one of those intense, immersion language courses.  But instead of learning how to communicate using Mandarin, Arabic, or French in three weeks, I’m learning how to communicate using the nouns and verbs of business analysts, the conjugations of C-Suite execs, and the quick deal-making slang of Wall Street traders.  Maybe this sounds obvious: one goes to business school expecting to speak the language of business.  But if you’re not used to this language, like I wasn’t when I started at Simon, it can be very stressful and intimidating at the start.
            Just this weekend, I was in New York City for an informational interview with a top investment bank, which is where I want to be after earning my MBA.  Actually, let me back up a bit first and share with you my background, briefly.  My undergraduate degrees are in Philosophy and Politics.  Specifically, I concentrated on Ethics.  After graduation, I was a director of a community-based non-profit and am currently a member of the United States Air Force as a traditional guardsman in an Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.  How does this relate to Ethics?  Well, that will be for another blog entry.  For now let’s talk business.
            For three hours, Simon alumni who currently work at this investment bank, made the trip up to the top floor suite of their Madison Ave building and generously offered their time to myself and three other 1st-year MBA candidates sharing their stories, hearing our goals, answering our questions, and offering advice.  For three hours, they talked about yield curves, present values, buy-side/sell-side perspectives, market catalysts, accounting principles, equity and debt financing, hedge fund strategies, and trading technologies with the ease and familiarity one has conversing college football or short-course handicaps (which also came up).  Given my background, this was not an easy conversation to maintain.
            But, to be successful, you need to understand this language.  Simon’s strategy, especially for first years, is aggressive because it immerses you in this culture from day one without apology.  For us who are new to this language, it seems merciless.  Simon also has a large international student population; I can only sympathize for anyone who hasn’t already mastered English and now needs to learn this dialect called business.  In my opinion, Simon’s strategy is brilliant.  Language immersion courses are successful because they don’t allow you to fall back on the comforts of your native language despite the anxiety.  It’s the same here at Simon.  You learn how to speak the business language quickly and effectively.  Three weeks into Simon and my personal interactions with investment banks are already beginning.  It’s exciting, it’s challenging, and it’s just what I wanted.
             I’ll tell you more about the mouse we found in our bathtub, later.  This NYC hotel does not get the Markowicz stamp of approval!

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