Internship Yields Job at World's Largest Asset Management Company
April 16, 2015
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Last summer Illinois Wesleyan student Nikolay Karnev ’15 interned
in London, but he didn’t get to see much of one of the world’s most vibrant and historic
cities. He was crunching data and editing source code during 12-hour days as a financial
analyst intern at BlackRock, Inc., the world’s largest asset manager.
His dedication and hard work has paid off. This summer Karnev begins working fulltime
as a financial analyst for BlackRock, a company that manages more than $4.5 trillion
in assets worldwide. Karnev will provide analytical support for portfolio managers
in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Karnev was introduced to BlackRock, and to Illinois Wesleyan, through his childhood
friend Stefan Stoev ’10. The two grew up on the same street in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Stoev interned at BlackRock in 2011 and now works as an equity research associate
at Redburn, also in London.
“Stefan introduced me to the asset management industry and since then, it has been
my goal to enter this field,” said Karnev, a computer science and financial services double major. He said his Illinois Wesleyan advisor, Associate Professor of Business
Administration Elisabeta Pana, advised him on the steps to take during summer breaks
to increase his chances of landing the highly coveted internship at BlackRock.
During his internship Karnev was assigned two main projects in addition to his daily
work. One project focused on products known as “smart beta.” The term ‘smart beta’
refers to a group of hybrid products billed as an alternative to the traditional “active”
and “passive” investment strategies. Karnev explained that “smart beta” products are
portfolios of stocks and bonds, structured similar to Exchange-Traded Funds, but weighted
based on factors different than market capitalization. He said the products offer
investor access to returns that are superior to the market returns of cap-weighted
at lower costs than active management.
Karnev’s other main project involved building an in-house property equity model, capable
of valuing asset managers, banks and insurance companies. The model Karnev worked
on pulled financial data from Reuters, Bloomberg and other data providers, and computed
a set of financial analytics relevant to the valuation process required by the portfolio
Karnev was able to “pay it forward” this year by bringing some of the skills he developed
at BlackRock back to Illinois Wesleyan. Using the same skills he learned at BlackRock,
Karnev conducted an analysis of the Portfolio Management class at IWU. This student-managed class provides an opportunity for interested students
to gain hands-on experience as money managers.
“I approached analyzing the [student-managed] portfolio and the stocks in it the same
way I was taught at BlackRock,” said Karnev.
He said he feels well prepared for life after graduation. “Wesleyan prepared me for
my career by giving me exposure to aspects of finance I found interesting and sparking
my interest to further investigate these topics outside the classroom. I am certain
the hardworking mentality and discipline required here will prove to be a leading
guide to my future success.”