Spotlighted Student: William (Jake) Riiska '14
William (Jake) Riiska ’14 became acquainted with Haverford College during his junior year at St. George’s school in Newport, Rhode Island, through his academic advisor. Jake recognized early in his college process that a small school, with rigorous academics, easy access to professors, and proximity to New York City and Washington, D.C. would be a good fit for him.
Although he anticipated majoring in Political Science, Jake changed his major to Economics after his freshman year. Highlights of his course work include Professor Banerjee’s Exchange Rates Economics Junior Research Seminar and Professor Kontorovich’s Intermediate Microeconomics course. In fact, during his junior year abroad at Oxford Jake took a course on Command and Transition Economies where one of the assigned papers was co-authored by Professor Kontorovich.
Haverford has offered Jake many opportunities. During his freshman year, Jake had a short internship at Llenroc Capital LLC (Now named Underhill Investment Management LLC), an investment management firm outside San Francisco, under the tutelage of Haverford alum, Michael Tannenbaum ‘96. Later that summer, he participated in a summer scholars program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business where he studied accounting, financial analysis, marketing, strategy and bargaining. From February through to the end of June during his sophomore year, Jake worked as a research assistant for Professor Indradeep Ghosh on a project analyzing the efficacy of Central Bank intervention in the foreign exchange markets. After his work with Professor Ghosh, Jake received a Whitehead Internship grant to move to New York City for the remainder of the summer for an internship. He interned at the OTC energy derivatives brokerage firm Dorado Energy Services with founder, and Haverford Economics alumni, John Michals ’04. During the internship, Jake learned about options trading, trade reconciliation, the language of options brokerage, and the day-to-day operations of a back office. This past summer Jake lived in New York City interning as a financial analyst with the J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
Outside of career opportunities, Jake spent his junior year abroad studying at the University of Oxford’s Mansfield College. He found the educational framework surprisingly different from Haverford, and he has emerged energized and richer from the experience. Though extremely demanding, his Oxford coursework offered him the opportunity for stimulating economic analysis and a great deal of refinement of his writing.
Apart from academics, during his time at Haverford Jake has served on the Committee on Investments, Social Responsibility and the Microfinance Impact Investing Initiative, and has captained the Haverford Men’s Rugby Team. While at Oxford, he played mid-field on their lacrosse team (First Team), one of the oldest teams in the UK, and he travelled to 15 cities and numerous countries, with highlighted moments in Turkey, Switzerland (especially Zurich) and Hungary.
The work Jake did with Professor Ghosh has parlayed into a senior thesis that analyzes the efficacy of Central Bank monetary policy intervention on exchange rate volatility and exchange rate level within the context of Slovakia during the period from 1999-2007. He is currently working with a unique dataset provided by the National Bank of Slovakia and Biswajit Banerjee, his thesis advisor.
Following graduation and before he starts his career, Jake plans to travel across the US and to begin studying for the CFA Level 1 Exam. For now, though, he is looking forward to a position in the asset management sector of the financial services industry. After a few years of experience in the field, he plans on applying to graduate school.