By: Sumaita Mahmood, Wasserman Career Ambassador
Hi everyone! My name is Sumaita, and I am in my second year studying Global Public Health and Chemistry. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a panel called Real Talk: Finance, Accounting and Consulting Panel. As someone who is as far away from those three fields as could be, I was fascinated by how much I learned from the experiences of the wonderful speakers we had and how much of what they said could apply to my own life.
Here is a list of the companies that came out to speak as well as the names of the speakers:
- Esther Jacobs and Jerica Newby, BKD
- Raegim P Walker, London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG)
- Ashley Lu, Northwestern Mutual
- Joseph Destin and Sabrina Slade from SEO
- Maria Paris from UBS
We started off by hearing from the panelists on how they identify, which has played a big role in the way they have made decisions in their current careers. While they varied in their background, paths and chosen fields, they shared one piece of advice in common. Each panelist emphasized how they could have never predicted how their careers had turned out when they were first starting. Here are something things that I Iearned from these wonderful speakers that I think can apply to all fields:
- Your path may be unpredictable, but embracing and accepting change is the best thing to do.
According to the speakers, there are aspects to each of their careers that were unexpected, but they do not regret it. The key point is that it is important to keep an open mind as current college students. You never know what will happen and your interests and path can always change. The key is to be open to that change and embrace it (with help from resources from Wasserman).
- Don’t let an unfamiliar work culture intimidate you, especially when your backgrounds aren’t represented.
All the panelists admitted to not seeing people like them when looking at their careers. From Northwestern Mutual, the speaker discussed how the financial technology environment can be a difficult one to enter, especially as a minority and as a woman. Her advice was to really gain a good understanding of the atmosphere because there are different cultures within organizations themselves in addition to fields. The style of work can be completely different. For instance, the work environment of banking is quite different to the world of management consulting. Her advice can be applied to any job or career that a future student sets their eyes on.
- Use your personal identity and experiences to contribute to your choices and contributions, and shape your career.
As the speaker from UBS said, using one’s identity and background can also help to break down monocultures that can exist in the workplace and fields. By bringing fresh ideas and fresh experiences, your work is automatically valuable for its potential to lead to more innovation. From her experience looking at employers, she advises to find those companies that resonate with you at your core and look at their demographics to see if this is a company that you can see yourself working for.
- Opportunities are much more forgiving at this age, so make the most of them!
Pursuing a wide range of opportunities during college is a great way to gain a variety of experience and look for where your interests match best with the opportunities you have. Any experience can be a good experience because you can always make something out of it and gain experience. Through mentorship, professionals can also help students currently interested build on their skills and advance the field even more, so that they don’t start from square one.
By attending panels like this one, you can gain a deeper understanding of what building one’s career takes. While this panel was especially helpful for someone in finance, consulting or accounting, I found it incredibly valuable in the advice I received from these professionals on how to approach the future and how I go about my own career search and career building. For anyone interested in getting great advice, Real Talk panels are a must-attend event!