Starting a career after college can be daunting for most students. Having said that, most McIntire graduates are not like most students.
By the time they find themselves walking the Lawn, many Comm School undergrads and grads alike already have a pretty good idea about where they’re headed, often having secured a position that they’re well-prepared to tackle.
Once they do get started in their careers in earnest, McIntire alums maintain close ties with the School, taking a proactive role to ensure the success of future classes of alumni through meetings, fundraising efforts, and the vital engagement opportunities created by the McIntire Young Alumni Council (MYAC).
We recently caught up with four young alumni—Lauren Fogel (McIntire ’18 and MYAC Board Member), Allie Griswold (McIntire ’15 and MYAC Board Member), Joe Ripple (M.S. in Commerce ’15), and Jessica Stamelman (McIntire ’15 and MYAC Board Member)—to talk about their experiences.
Fogel took on a two-year business analyst rotational program at Capital One directly out of the Comm School. In the role, she quickly discovered a newfound interest in the work the product managers she supported were undertaking. After seven months, she became a Product Manager herself, combining her interests in behavioral psychology, design, and strategy. Two and a half years later, Fogel joined The New York Times, where she’s now a Product Manager for its Advertising Team.
Griswold, who went from McIntire to McKinsey & Company to co-founding women’s body care product startup Athena Club, has since started working on a second startup, sustainable canned cocktail company Mayne & Co. Following a year away from McKinsey, she’s also serving as a Consultant with the firm, lending her expertise to strategy and engagement issues.
After completing the M.S. in Commerce Program, Ripple became an Analyst with boutique consultancy Pace Harmon—an experience building and analyzing financial models that led him to found social enterprise Ripple Effect Ventures (REV) in Rwanda in December 2018. His work with REV has made a real impact, including $20,000 in funds collected, raising Rwandan student SAT scores by 120 points, and accumulating over $300,000 in scholarships. Currently enrolled in University of Michigan-Ross’s MBA program, he’s serving as the Managing Director of the school’s International Investment Fund, while also fulfilling an Ads Finance internship with Google.
Stamelman’s career began in investment banking at Houlihan Lokey in the financial restructuring group. That led her to Carlyle’s special situations/distressed investing fund, doing both public debt and private equity style investing. Stamelman later joined her former portfolio company, Prime Clerk, and its parent company, Kroll. She is now the President of the Kroll Business Services division, which is the global leader in complex claims administration and legal and business solutions.
In discussing how their time in the Comm School readied them for the bright futures they’re living now, we discovered how McIntire has been an integral part of the young alumni’s success.
How did McIntire prepare you for your professional journey? What courses and professors gave you the experiences that made a difference for you?
Fogel: The team-based curriculum at McIntire was essential in preparing me for my current roles. As you start a full-time job, you begin to realize that projects at organizations are entirely too big for one individual to complete alone. Knowing upfront how to work effectively on a team really helped me ramp up quickly in my post-grad roles, and I’m grateful to McIntire for arming me with these skills.
Two professors and classes really stand out to me and directly relate to the work I do today. Part of my job is working with data scientists, and I owe Professor Jingjing Li and her Business Analytics class credit for enabling me to have intelligent conversations with these data science teams about various machine learning models and analysis methodologies. I also still use many of the lessons I learned in Professor Gary Ballinger’s Decision Making & Negotiations course, both personally and professionally, from living with roommates to negotiating a new job contract to influencing other teams in your organization; the skills learned in his class are still relevant to me today.
Griswold: McIntire gave me both content and functional knowledge, like how to do a DCF [discounted cash flow valuation] and what customer acquisition and conversion rates mean, but it also instilled in me a deeper way of thinking and structuring problems. I felt like I had the tools and vocabulary in the stressful early consulting days to get up on my feet. One of my favorite classes, and one that shaped my view of customer experience that I pulled into a lot of my different professional roles, was a class taught by a former Disney executive on entertainment marketing. Diving into real case studies and hearing his firsthand experiences provided an incredible view into the topic.
Stamelman: I truly think McIntire provides the best training and preparation for the real world. You learn the technical aspects on the job day to day, but McIntire teaches you to think, to ask yourself, “Does this make sense?” instead of mindlessly cranking through Excel.
One of my favorite classes was Professor David Smith’s Restructuring capstone, which gave me an invaluable foundation to start my career, and I love continuing to stay in touch with him to this day. I was also lucky to take the Private Equity class co-taught by Professor Felicia Marston, who I also stay in touch with, and Professor Greg Ledford, a highly respected Carlyle investor. I’ll never forget when Professor Ledford came to my cubicle to say “Hi” during one of my first weeks at Carlyle; I think he got a kick out of being called “Professor” in front of my team, and needless to say, it was a big welcome for me.
Ripple: I came to McIntire with relatively little business internship experience. I spent most of my undergraduate career interning for a corporate law firm and expecting to attend law school, before I realized that I would rather facilitate business than be an intermediary for it. By professors having us tell our story in our first week at McIntire, I was able to clearly articulate a crystallized version of my short- and long-term goals: cut my teeth in an industry where I have to drink from a firehose (i.e., consulting), learn in “dog years,” and eventually, use that knowledge for good.
As we departed from Grounds, Professor Peter Maillet also shared a piece of advice with us that still resonates with me. He told us to “take as much risk as we possibly can.” As we embarked upon lucrative and prestigious careers, it would have been easy to fall prey to the meritocratic trap of only focusing on making partner or making money for the wrong reasons. His advice reminded me to take time to reflect and take chances on myself, which has made me a more fulfilled and confident person. Admittedly, however, I’m not sure my mother is thrilled about somebody increasing my already high level of risk tolerance.
In your days in the Commerce School, can you recall having an epiphany about how you came to understand some aspect of business or sudden clarity about what you wanted to do with your future?
Griswold: The first semester of the Integrated Core was an epiphany, when I realized how interconnected every part of the business is. The structure of our blocks and classes—weaving marketing, strategy and systems, finance, quantitative analysis, communications all together—brought it to life for me how much each part of the business flows into the others, and that nothing exists in isolation. This perspective was something that I brought into consulting, as I worked to connect all the different pieces of a project and of our clients, and certainly has helped in my startup life, as I’m in the eye of the hurricane, with all the different parts of the company swirling around me.
Stamelman: I started my career by making choices that would only open doors, beginning with the first decision to try out investment banking for my summer internship. I knew it would be demanding, but I expected that the training and experience early on would provide me with an invaluable foundation. Especially in the investment banking/buyside world, you have to make these big career decisions so early on, as the notorious on-cycle recruiting gets earlier and earlier for internships, full-time banking positions, and then first investing roles. Even when I was anxious about making a choice that wouldn’t come to fruition for one to two years, I felt confident in my decisions, knowing that the paths I was taking had multiple doors to walk through. Remember that there’s value to optionality! I chose companies and groups where people stayed and those higher up had long tenures, so I knew I could have a fruitful career staying put, but should I want to enter a new room, I had choices. All of my choices and doors led me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I work at a great company with tremendous opportunities for growth, and I have the best mentors who continue to invest in me. I’ve put in a lot of hard work to be where I am today, but I also feel very grateful.
Ripple: I did not know much about Southeast Asia or fully appreciate its role in the global economy until the M.S. in Commerce Program’s Global Immersion Experience. This experience was so gratifying, because I learned how advanced countries (e.g., Singapore) developed, use their geography strategically, and demonstrate their value in global commerce, but also how developing countries (e.g., Myanmar) are trying to enter the global economy after nearly half a century of isolation and autarky. I left the trip having a true appreciation for the interconnectedness, nuances, growing pains, and opportunities that exist in the global economy.
Fogel: When I joined McIntire, it felt like everyone knew exactly what they wanted to do—either become investment bankers or go into consulting.
Of course, this wasn’t true. Most of my peers did not know exactly what they wanted to do, and as we went through our McIntire experience, we soon learned that business was so much broader than investment banking and consulting. This understanding helped me break free from the mold that I should be spending all of my time doing case competitions and practice interviews.
Instead, I started to spend time exploring as many aspects of business as I could. I became heavily involved in Net Impact, a CIO for entrepreneurship and sustainability, which introduced me to a number of local startups in the Charlottesville community. I took a few courses in Behavioral Design with Professor Leidy Klotz. These courses were part of an interdisciplinary program between the School of Architecture and the Engineering School. I participated in a Design course at Forge (formerly HackCville), where I learned graphic design and design principles. I took a few computer science courses to learn Java and Python.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but all of these interests were helping shape a narrative. Looking back, it makes sense that I ended up in product management, which tends to be a field that attracts people with varied backgrounds. As a student, though, I had no idea that all of these interests were related and could lead to a career. My younger brother is headed into his fourth year at McIntire, and I constantly give him the following advice. It is guidance I wish someone had told me when I was still in school: 1) It is okay to change your mind; 2) even if you think you know exactly what you want to do post-grad, it will probably change; and 3) use college to explore any inkling of an interest you have. You never know where it could lead.
Why is staying connected to McIntire important to you?
Stamelman: It’s simple: paying it forward. When I look back over the years, I have been helped and supported by so many UVA alums. From Houlihan, where I knew I was being looked after by the countless number of UVA alums (including the co-head of the restructuring group), to joining a team at Carlyle that at the time was 50% UVA alums, to tapping my network for guidance as I was making my most recent career transition—there are too many people to count who have helped me along the way. I’ve made some of my best friends through McIntire (both before and after graduation), and I’ll never be able to fully repay McIntire for those connections.
Fogel: There are so many reasons to stay connected to McIntire, but for me, the alumni community truly stands out. Earlier this year, as I was going through the process of interviewing at different companies, I relied on many of my McIntire connections to learn about different opportunities that were out there and get my foot in the door. McIntire alumni are always incredibly helpful and willing to have a conversation.
Further, McIntire is always putting on different events for the alumni community. In particular, I’ve been really impressed by some of the virtual events McIntire has organized this past year, including bringing in speakers like Marty Cagan whose book, Inspired, has become the “bible for product managers.” These events have helped me stay connected to some of my favorite professors at McIntire, including Professor Ryan Nelson and Professor Ryan Wright, who are academic leaders in the product management space.
Lastly, during my fourth year at McIntire, I served as the Commerce Council President, and it has been really exciting and rewarding to stay connected and see how some of the projects our council started have come to life. I’ve even had the opportunity to continue serving my peers in my role on the McIntire Young Alumni Council. I’m so grateful to McIntire for providing me a community even in the post-grad world.
Griswold: I love seeing the next generation of students living out their own experiences at UVA, with some very similar to what my classmates and I experienced and some quite different as the School continues to evolve. McIntire was such a meaningful part of shaping the person I became and the journey I’ve taken in my career, that I am thrilled to be able to give back and create the best experience possible for future students.
Ripple: McIntire provided me with a spark plug for my career, my network, and my understanding of myself. I learned so much in one year and am so much more self-aware six years later because of this experience and everything that followed. I have had the privilege of interacting with Associate Director of Development Chera Teague over the last few years, am actively and continuing to foster my relationship with the School.
Last summer, I was able to bring on several McIntire students as interns with REV, and the quality of work they provided was unparalleled. It was also a great opportunity for me to echo the sentiments of McIntire’s inspiring faculty and show them that they can use their talents and education to enact change.