This past summer I had a wonderful opportunity to intern at Morgan Stanley in their operations department. I learned about investment banking, the world’s economy, foreign exchange and capital markets. Overall, I learned that I could excel in my position and gain an expertise in a field that I was unfamiliar with.

I am a senior studying Information Management and Technology at the iSchool with a concentration in Project Management. My coursework consists of analyzing business problems, understanding client’s expectations and delivering a technical solution. I love this field because of the multitude of industries I could work with. But I was anxious in the start of my internship. I was alongside students that were accounting, economics and finance majors.

Working with Morgan Stanley

I was surrounded by Wall Street bankers, Investors, VPs, managers and people who knew everything about business. After talking to my co-workers, I was curious about their journey from college to the real world. My direct manager studied Islamic Architecture, my co-workers all came from liberal arts background. The CEO of Morgan Stanley has a law background from Australia!

In the first week, I set a number of goals with my manager, senior mentor and peer mentor. I learned more about the financial sector, the role of technology in operations and improve my public speaking skills. The mentoring program at the firm fostered a supportive environment where I was able to discuss my academic, personal and professional goals.

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The employees were keen on calling us operations analysts and describing the program as an apprenticeship; not interns. My responsibilities went from 0 to 100 really quickly. Various departments were reliant on me to send them trade data on a daily basis. I attended Skype meetings with my team in Hong Kong, Glasgow, and Baltimore, Maryland. I also had the opportunity to lead a team on creating a better costing allocation method.

My evaluations gave me feedback on my work ethic and suggestions on how I can improve and manage my time. I was also able to discuss my interests in project management and technology. Your first job out of college is an important stepping-stone into your professional path. Finding an entry level position that would enable me to constantly learn and build technical skills is a distinction I was adamant about. The firm considered my personal goals and assisted me in seeking opportunities in more technical positions. I’m grateful to have a position that will be challenging, fit my professional ideals, and be in an area where I could solve problems.

How HEOP helped me get there

The Syracuse University iSchool and most importantly HEOP gave me the ability to come this far. The Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program is a New York State scholarship program that provides numerous means of support and educational resources for underrepresented students. Syracuse University holds the 2nd largest program in New York. My classes and academics certainly allowed me to learn the skills I needed.

The advice I received from HEOP students and advisers is what allowed me to determine who I am, what I want for my future and to never be afraid to speak up when it comes to something I’m passionate about. The scholarship entails a summer semester prior to the start of freshman year, where we were able to meet other HEOP students and take college classes. During this time I discovered all the possibilities of my next 4 years at Syracuse; studying abroad, internships, professional women’s organizations and more.

I am a first-generation female studying information technology in the middle of upstate New York. My entire undergraduate experience, whether it was SU, the male-dominated technology industry, or corporate environments, I personally know what it means to be underrepresented. My HEOP family along with the iSchool empowered me to be comfortable, confident and unapologetically me in times where I did not seem fit. Being in a program that is so heavily ingrained in helping others is has truly impacted my character and pushed me to always give a lending hand especially to students who may have been in the same shoes that I was in.

Editor’s note: this blog first appeared as an article in HEOP’s Fall 2016 newsletter. You can learn more about Syracuse University HEOP and the Office of Supportive Services (OSS) on their website.