Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaneda T’13

Why Tuck?
I was looking for a very strong academic curriculum. In the top schools, that’s a given. But I was also looking for a very intense experience. When I visited Tuck I realized that when you’re in a small community in this environment, you’re exposed all the time to your peers. You really see how everybody knows everybody. When you go out for dinner, you’ll be with Tuckies. When you’re doing sports, you’ll be with Tuckies. You get to know a lot of people very well, and learn a lot from them. You also get more international experience because of Tuck’s setting, where you’re constantly mixed with everyone and away from distractions. Here, we know everybody. For example, I now have Chinese and Indian friends and, even though I have not visited their countries, I have gotten a good feeling of their culture. In that sense, Tuck has exceeded my expectations.

Internship
My internship was in the M&A department at Morgan Stanley in London. Morgan Stanley is slightly different from other banks because it gives you the opportunity to work with different industry groups during the summer. I worked on a deal in transportation for nine weeks. It was very interesting to learn of all the different aspects that affected the deal, from the pure finance modeling to the different groups and institutions involved and how complicated their interests were. At the same time, I did several pitches for the Basic Materials team, and with that team I got the chance to work on a project in Africa. It was interesting for me to see the importance of strategy within finance. My experience during the summer really got me excited about my second year at Tuck and my long-term career.

You need to be flexible and have a process of approaching things. Tuck’s core curriculum prepares you very well.” Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaneda T’13
Curriculum
Speaking with Tuck alumni who worked in M&A, they told me the challenge of the summer internship was probably not going to be the finance. And I agree with them. The challenge was handling the unexpected. But the way classes and assignments are structured—most of the time you have to do the homework before anyone has explained the material to you—I think you gain the ability to deal with uncertainty and things you might not know how to handle. For a job in M&A, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of work and tight deadlines. You need to be flexible and have a process of approaching things. Tuck’s core curriculum in the first year prepares you very well to deal with that. To be able to learn quickly and effectively. For me, that was important.

Life at Tuck
When I had a little more time after Fall A and B, I started skiing and going to the gym. The spring was awesome. I got involved in Tuck Follies in May. Singing and dancing were new experiences for me, something that I never thought I’d be able to do. I also played soccer and participated in the MBA World Cup. Now, I’m part of the triathlon club and we’re preparing for a race.