Washington D.C. was amazing!
I got back from Thanksgiving on Sunday evening, took a test on Monday morning, and then flew out to D.C. on Monday night – where we then studied all night. When we got to the Fed on Tuesday morning, we had to go through security that was a lot like airport security and anywhere we went while we were there, we had to have an escort.
We finally arrived at the board room and the room itself was impressive. I walked across the Federal Reserve seal and there was a huge table with chairs engraved with the governors’ names on them (because it is the same room where the board of governors meets). We were then welcomed by Ben Bernanke himself and each team got to take a picture with him.
Then the work began.
The next few hours were spent cramming for the Q and A section. Around 11:00 a.m., we started our presentation in front of three judges and the three teams that had already presented. The presentation went great. While I was speaking, I found that Elizabeth Duke would look directly in your eyes and not look away so all I could think about was not messing up or looking down at my script because she was watching me so carefully.
Then we had the Q and A section – and I have to say that this Q and A was more relaxed than in Chicago. In Chicago, it was much more grilling while D.C. was much more of a conversation. The questions were much broader and we could discuss them in more detail demonstrating our level of understanding. At the end, the whole Fed team was happy with our performance and when it came down to the awards, Harvard won and Rutgers placed second. (The other three teams are then given honorable mention.) I have to say that, for a group of first timers, we did pretty amazing. (One guy from Harvard has been participating in the Fed Challenge for five years because he started in high school!) I was thrilled with how we did, and we finished up as one of the top five in the country! This whole experience has been truly amazing, and I have learned more than I would in any classroom. Hopefully I will have a chance to do this again next year!
The team then flew back from D.C. on Tuesday and, even though Fed was over, there was still plenty to do and a crazy week ahead. I had two lab exams on Wednesday, a final project due Thursday, and two finals and a paper. With a lot of studying and a little sleep, I managed to make it through a crazy semester and now I am home for Christmas break. Needless to say, this semester has been quite the experience and the Fed Challenge has made all the work worth it.