Meet me at the intersection
If you ask Jenny Tan where to meet, don’t be surprised if she says at the intersection — of organic chemistry and machine learning, of science and finance, of health care and podcasting, of 52nd and Park.
“It’s a theme I see a lot in my life,” the Saybrook senior, soon to be an investment banker, said of converging domains.
For her, the theme emerged at Yale.
After attending a science-intensive high school in Northern Virginia, Tan arrived in New Haven assuming she’d major in science and that this would, in due course, lead to an M.D. or a Ph.D. and health care career.
Tan did major in science, a double-dose of it: next week she’ll graduate, Phi Beta Kappa, with degrees in chemistry and statistics and data science (and with a none-too-shabby 3.97 GPA). But even as she happily isolated isomers as an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Professor Scott Miller; even as she used beam search algorithms (for instance) to determine amino acid pathways in proteins alongside professor Victor Batista; even as she rose to become editor-in-chief of Yale Scientific Magazine (founded 1894), Tan followed a current of curiosity about the world of finance piqued by Yale peers’ frequent reference to it.
This took the form of an active role in the Yale Student Investment Group (YSIG), which she describes as “a mini hedge fund.” Its board, which Tan ultimately joined, makes actual stock market investments based on the recommendations of sector-specific student research teams. Over time, she was a member of the health care, technology, and environmental, social, and governance groups.
More consequential than what she learned about income statements and valuation, Tan said, was exposure to the broader world of finance through fellow students. This led to the realization that she could merge her interests in science, health care, and finance.
Serving as a research assistant for the “Health & Veritas” podcast hosted by Yale professors Howard Forman and Harlan Krumholz — in which those widely inquisitive physician-researchers discuss health care news and ideas and “seek out the truth amid the noise” with varied guests — reinforced the idea that health care is a vast universe inhabited by financiers and businesspeople, too.
“‘Let me just try this out,’” she thought when asked to join the podcast team.
Last summer, in Menlo Park, California, Tan worked with the health care group at Evercore, an investment bank specializing in financial advisory. Next month, she starts as a first-year analyst in the firm’s midtown Manhattan headquarters (between Madison and Park).
“I view finance as a tool to get important products into the market — using capital to help support life-changing technologies that will help society in general,” she said. She hopes to be assigned to the health care group.
Excited for the adventure ahead, she remains open, far down the road, to related possibilities — in health care investing, perhaps, or graduate school in chemistry.
But first, New York.
To date, Tan’s longest exposure to America’s most populous city measures about a week. But its famously fast pace and variety suit her personality, she said.
And moving to Manhattan will represent yet another intersection. “A lot of people from Yale go to New York,” she said.
Indeed, as Jenny Tan plunges into big-city life, she’ll do so in familiar company, including a Saybrook suitemate. “My best friend is going to live with me.”