Parker, TX, native Lauren Hinton says she’s been interested in business ever since she had a front-row seat to her father and great-uncle launching a company that performed background checks that shifted into a data collection enterprise. As the enterprise grew, so did her interest, fostering a passion for all she saw taking place with her relatives’ commercial initiative.
That attraction to the world of business took hold, eventually leading her to apply to the Commerce School.
Hinton says the decision seemed natural. And despite being a transfer student who had to delay graduation by a year in order to catch up on prereq courses, the UVA Soccer midfielder who began her studies at Florida International has no regrets.
“McIntire has expanded my idea of business, has given me the opportunity to look at it with various lenses and through the experiences of various people I have worked with. The professors in particular have helped me meet my academic goals, as well as been a personal resource,” she says, crediting the faculty with their willingness to discuss their ideas on commerce-related subjects.
Beyond those interpersonal and curricular factors, Hinton says that playing soccer for the University has provided “the ultimate test of prioritizing and balancing school and athletics,” necessitating a proactive approach to stay atop both her athletics and academics.
Strategies for Success
“As much as procrastination tempts me, I know that I will be overwhelmed if I do not prioritize tasks and make it a point to get them done early,” she admits, pointing out that as McIntire coursework has a strong focus on team projects, it’s an imperative that she reaches out to her fellow students regularly. “When it comes to missing class or group work for travel, I make sure I have communicated that to the people who will be affected and let them know that I will contribute just as much as if I were there.”
Hinton believes that being a student-athlete has given her a perspective that often makes for a different point of view than those she finds held by her classmates. She says that has yielded some positive results, especially in light of her commitment to preparing for games and making sure her group in class readied their deliverables well before she would be away.
“Also, when your whole life is dedicated to playing on a team, everyone you meet or work with moving forward becomes part of your team in a way. For our senior game this year, my Comm group from fall 2020 was there to cheer me on,” she recalls fondly. “Parents in the stands even commented on how loud they were. They made a sign. It was great.”
In addition to her peers, Hinton says that McIntire faculty have had a positive impact on her Comm School experience, with two professors standing out to her.
The first who came to mind is Professor Peter Maillet, whom she learned from in his Foundations of Global Commerce course. “I don’t think I have ever met a more intelligent person. Professor Maillet knows just about everything happening in the global economy, and each topic for class got more interesting as the semester went on. I love that he is so engaging and passionate about what he teaches, and the conversations I have had with him left me more curious every time we spoke,” she says.
She recognizes Professor Jeffrey Leopold, whom she studied with in Foundations of Commerce and learned from again in the fall semester. “Professor Leopold made it clear from the start that he wants to be a professional resource for us as well as a teacher,” Hinton recalls. “I’ve gotten the opportunity to talk with him about what I want to do with my career and how I would potentially like to continue my academics, and he has always given thoughtful advice. His anecdotal teaching style helps to visualize what the real world of business entails and helps make learning the concepts more engaging.”
From the Pitch to the Professional World
Getting involved in that world proved to be the most challenging aspect of Hinton’s academic life. Beyond the “balancing act” she has to keep in mind as she dedicates her time between her sport and her courses, participating in the professional recruiting process was something soccer had kept her from until 2020.
“With a fall sport, we always have to report back to Grounds in early July, so there is no way to hold internships over the summer,” Hinton explains.
Yet that arrangement didn’t hold during the pandemic, as many internships moved online. The upside to a terrible situation gave her the chance to accept a position as a Private Wealth Intern at AllianceBernstein. She considers herself lucky to have finally been able to be involved.
“Through that process, though, I learned a lot about accepting rejection and figuring out how to best advocate for yourself. The whole experience taught me what any athlete should inherently know: When you fail, get back up, and keep trying. I also learned that there is a lot of added pressure to have an internship or a job—especially if your peers have one—but everything works out how it should if you are willing to put in the work.”
Post-McIntire and UVA, Hinton’s professional plans may not lead her directly to the office—or to a remote position with an organization either. She has her sights set elsewhere first.
“After graduation, I want to play abroad for a year. I have one year left of eligibility, but playing abroad has always fascinated me. If I were to get an opportunity to do so, I wouldn’t pass it up,” she says, clarifying that she would most likely follow up that stint by returning to work at AllianceBernstein.
She says she’s most looking forward to discovering exactly how freedom from a rigid schedule will play out, and what the transition to being on her own—and working with career-minded finance people, as opposed to soccer teammates—will ultimately look and feel like.
“I know I will get to work in a team environment in some way, so I am excited to see how I can take the skills I have accumulated from playing soccer and attending McIntire and transfer them to the real world. There is so much to look forward to!”