Interested in the Semester in Washington Politics Program?


Submit Your Online Application


Justin Elsesser

Photo of Justin Elsesser

Manager of Trading and Operations, Silver Leaf Partners

Please describe your professional history. How has your SIWP experience helped you along the way?

"After graduating college in 2011 from Shippensburg University I came to DC in order to pursue an internship with Congressman Tim Holden while enrolling in the SIWP program at GW. After the program I was offered a position with the Congressman and with my current firm, Silver Leaf Partners an Institutional Broker Dealer. I chose to take the offer with Silver Leaf as the Financial Services Industry has always been my target industry to work. I’ve now been at the firm for a little over 2 and half years and have been promoted to Manager of Trading and Operations. I oversee two other employees and run the day to day dealings of my firm’s trading business in stocks, bonds, options, futures, and foreign exchange. I’m fully licensed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Futures Associate having acquired my Series 7, 63, 3, 4, 55, 99, and 24 licenses and am currently a candidate to take the Level III exam of the Certified Financial Analyst certification."

Please describe your current position. What is a day in your work life like?

"My firm’s clients are all Hedge Funds, Mutual Funds, Family Offices, and High Net Worth Individuals. We offer services ranging from Capital Raising to Marketing and Trading for Institutions. My job is to oversee the Trading side of the business, our clients trade various financial products through us over various electronic systems and voice desks. As manager I have to monitor the entirety of our client base, deal with issues as they arise, attempt to acquire new business, provide assistance on Ad Hoc requests, supervise the Operations staff, and attempt to identify ways we can expand the firm’s revenue. My typical work day starts between 8 and 8:30 AM, the beginning of day and end of day are always the busiest times with the most to do. I’ll come in the morning and check my e-mail, look to see if I have any missed calls, check all the trades done yesterday and ensure everything booked correctly, check for margin calls and option assignments, and then go to my To Do List which at any point will have between 5 to 10 ongoing projects I’m working on for clients and the firm. The rest of the day is spent on the phones with clients, monitoring the trade flow through our systems and through AIM communication with our voice desks (yes we still use AIM).

End of day is spent receiving between 10-25 files from our various vendors with all the trades our clients did for the day, our job is to ensure they book correctly, the client receives the information they need, and that there are no errors. Normally I’m out of the office between 5 and 6. The one catch to our job is that since the markets don’t close you can’t ever leave your desk for extended periods of time, so we don’t technically “get lunch,” we always eat at our desks and if exchanges are running we have to be in the office."

Where did you intern during SIWP? What was that experience like? How did it help you get where you are?

"I interned in Congressman Tim Holden’s office. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget, the Congressional Internship Lecture series and the exposure you get to the serious issues was second to none.

Though the internship and my career path didn’t sync up the experience is a rare one and one that I include on every Resume I send out. To many people outside of political circles Congress is just something they know from TV, when you meet someone that’s worked there and had interaction with those people and seen the inner workings people as a lot of questions. Everyone is always very impressed with that time period and it’s a source of great interest to the people who have interviewed me."

How has SIWP helped you over the course of your career? Are there lessons you learned in class/the practicum/your internship that you still use?

"The internship really helped me learn how to work in an office environment, especially one containing people of high caliber. The classes and practicum, while not related directly to my job, gave me a deeper insight into the political process and how it works. Politics has always been a personal interest of mine and continues to be to this day, so that was extremely interesting to me on a personal level.

The other thing SIWP did for me was introduce me to some amazing people, many of which I still talk to today. You’ll interact with intelligent ambitious people like you who are really going somewhere in life and the older you get the more you realize those relationships are some of the most beneficial out there."

Anything else interesting? Any words of wisdom for prospective or current students?

"ENJOY IT! No matter if your still in school or just graduated you’ll be participating in a top notch program, visiting and hopefully working in some of the most powerful institutions on the planet. Washington DC is the only city where when you leave your apartment and on the way to the metro you’ll walk past 3 institutions whose decisions affect the lives of literally tens/hundreds of millions of people around the world. I remember when I was in SIWP I stayed on E street and used to go jogging down by the Mall, every time I went I would run past the Federal Reserve, the State Department, and the Headquarters for the Red Cross. Then I’d come home and turn on CNBC to see something about a piece of economic data that the Fed put out or how the State Department just advised on ongoing talks with another country. The significance of what happens here can sometimes be lost in the shuffle but while you’re here and you have this amazing opportunity my advice to all of you is to take advantage of every minute of it!"