Living in South America while trying to enter the U.S. in the middle of a pandemic is not the easiest thing to do. I remember when I received the call that I had been admitted to Fuqua. I was in quarantine in Piura, Perú. The U.S. Embassy in Perú was closed and, at that time, I did not have a U.S. visa.
Unfortunately, when classes started in August, I was still in Perú, without a U.S. visa. Like many others, I had absolutely no clue when Perú would open its borders and allow people to travel abroad.
Persistence paid off, and I finally arrived in the U.S. in September. But this would not have been possible without all the help and support of the international students representative for the MBA Association (Giovanni Lu, then a second-year MBA student who has since graduated), and the Office of Student Life and Duke Visa Services.
When I decided to pursue an MBA, I knew I wanted to change my career, but I was not sure about what industry to focus on. As an international student, I had it in my mind that the big companies that sponsor internationals are in the industries of consulting, technology and investment banking. For this reason, I thought that consulting would be a good fit for me.
After I was admitted, I virtually attended the Forte Conference and some Fuqua events. During these events, I had my first exposure to investment banking and something that really stuck in my mind was that there were very few women in this industry. I was curious but not sure about pursuing investment banking.
I felt that I needed guidance and one of the first things that I did when I arrived in Durham was to reach out to the President and the Diversity Chair of the Fuqua Finance Club, who I met during the virtual Fuqua events.
During my first conversation with Laura Jones, the Diversity Chair of the Finance Club at that time, I was super transparent and vulnerable with her. I told her about my curiosity and interest in working in investment banking, and at the same time, about my doubts and insecurities because I did not have the traditional background to work in that industry. She kindly listened to me, shared her experience and encouraged me to pursue this path. She said that I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain. The recruiting for this industry starts early and if things didn’t work out, I could always recruit for a different industry, but I needed to decide now.
After that, I had a very long conversation with Kelly Rapp, the President of the Finance Club at that time. I told him about my journey since I was an undergrad until I arrived at Fuqua; why I chose to study engineering; why I decided to work in a hospital after college; why I decided to pursue an MBA; why I chose Fuqua. I also told him about all the projects I was involved with during my professional experience, and what my long-term goals were.
He helped me to craft my story and after these conversations, I had a strong and concise answer to the questions, “tell me about yourself,” “why investment banking,” and “what are the transferable qualities from my previous experience that I can bring to investment banking.” It was then that I decided to begin my investment banking recruiting journey.
I remember that all of the second-year students I talked with would say, “trust the process” and at the beginning, I was hesitant about that. But when the Finance Club started with the sessions, the roadmap for the recruiting, which paired first-year students with second-year Investment Banking Fellows, and also the Career Management Center (CMC) started its sessions pairing first-year with second-year Career Fellows, I found myself in such a supportive environment. I decided to trust and follow the process.
I won’t say it was easy, I had to work hard and study for my MBA classes and to prepare for the technical interviews. But I am sure that nothing would have been possible without the guidance and help I got from the second-year students, the Finance Club, the CMC and my classmates, who were also recruiting in investment banking. I am so grateful to all of them, and I can give faith that throughout this journey, the Team Fuqua spirit was always present. I felt that everyone I interacted with wanted me to succeed.
And I did it! Now that I finished my internship and received a full-time offer to work as an Investment Banking Associate at Morgan Stanley in New York, I just want to give back and help all the incoming first-year students to succeed in their journeys.
Even though 2020 was a difficult year with many uncertainties (I wasn’t sure if I would ever get my visa and arrive in the U.S. and there were so many questions about how to recruit during a pandemic), Duke, Fuqua and all the student-led organizations managed to provide all the incoming students with all the resources they needed to have the best experience. It is so beautiful and inspiring to witness how the student-led organizations epitomize the Team Fuqua spirit and how it transcends over generations.