December 26, 2012 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
New York City continues to remain a hub for jobs in the financial sector—and BMCC itself is located just minutes from Wall Street, which Business majors have stated is a major coupe; and a draw to the campus.
Three BMCC graduates currently working in the financial arena recently shared their job-hunting advice for 2013.
“Land of opportunity”
Elena Gonzalez grew up in Ukraine, and watched her best friend—who had a degree in Economics—struggle to find a job in the field.
Feeling uneasy about her career goals, in 2007 Gonzalez moved to New York, brushed up on her English, and enrolled at BMCC.
“For the first time, getting a college degree felt meaningful,” she recalls; having previously thought “only luck, connections or money” dictated one’s future, “as opposed to hard work and education.”
She took ESL and Business Law courses simultaneously, gradually learning how to grasp the specific terminology outlined in her legal course.
“It was tough, but I made through that class with an A,” she said. “One by one, accomplishments like that one made me realize I can do anything if I work hard.”
Gonzalez was active in Phi Theta Kappa at BMCC, and went on to graduate from Baruch/CUNY before landing a financial analyst job at Morgan Stanley.
“Looking back, I recognize that BMCC offered me a land of opportunities—and it was up to me to take advantage of them,” she says.
More than numbers
According to Gonzalez, “finance is not just about making trades on a stock exchange, job insecurity, or living in the office without knowing what home, friends and family are,” she says. “There are thousands of finance jobs in New York that are open for college graduates in accounting, information technology, consulting…plus, smaller firms look for finance graduates in industries such as fashion, retail, health care, real estate, sports—the list goes on and on. There’s something for everyone.”
Gonzalez encourages BMCC students to pursue a bachelor’s degree and to “be personable.”
“Top companies are not just looking for strong performers, but someone with interpersonal skills who have initative and can manage relationships,” she explains.
Be a ‘team player’
BMCC Liberal Arts graduate Christian Narvaez stresses the importance of finding a mentor.
At BMCC, he connected with advisors Nelson Izquierdo, Pedro Perez, and the late Orville Hill, of the College Discovery program.
Narvaez credits his former advisors with keeping him focused on his coursework and grades—a focus he carried into Baruch as an economics major, and into the workforce.
“I was impressed by Christian’s ability to not only excel academically, but to also maintain part-time employment, while being active in Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society, Latino Honor Society and the Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee,” says Izquierdo of Narvaez. “He has the perseverance, determination, and leadership abilities to succeed in any endeavor that he may pursue.”
After graduating from BMCC and Baruch, where he balanced financial internships with his classes, Narvaez found work as a Financial Data Analyst for Moody’s Investors Service. He often returns to BMCC to talk on alumni panels.
His advice for those seeking careers in finance?
“Be a team player. Be driven. The best job advice I received was to follow my dreams and always be happy with what I’m doing,” he says. “If you wake up in the morning not wanting to go to work, then it’s time to make a change.”
‘Proud to be at BMCC’
Roberto Jimenez commends his academic roots.
“I’m very proud that I went to BMCC; it’s where I developed my leadership skills, especially in the accounting club,” says the recent graduate who currently attends Pace University as an accounting major. “BMCC is where I developed a business acumen, which I brought with me to internships and beyond. I won an accounting award at BMCC, which really kept me motivated.”
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Aruba, Jimenez, who speaks English, Spanish, and Dutch, says he always had a knack for math and numbers.
Jimenez interned in the controller department at a large Wall Street firm and currently interns in the CFO office of a hedge fund.
He advises students to consider an internship—which can sometimes be counted as a ‘course’ for credit—if they’re interested in a financial career.
”Also, be knowledgeable about the market,” he advises. “At least about a particular area of finance, and bring that knowledge with you to a job interview. I have a background and associate’s degree in accounting, which I can use in so many aspects of the career world. In a way, it’s not as broad as general business; it’s very specific.”
Jimenez also credits BMCC for preparing him for Pace University.
“The professors really grill you at BMCC; in the accounting department they wanted to make sure you were prepared for the real world, and your higher education,” he says, adding that BMCC’s family-feel “is something I really miss.”