When I tell people that I was pre-med as a UVA first-year, many seem puzzled. It is often assumed that the world of finance and medicine are entirely separate. I operated under this commonly held assumption too. I feared the day I would have to choose a major and ultimately a career path.
Fortunately, an older mentor of mine at the McIntire School of Commerce introduced me to Smart Woman Securities, an all-female organization aimed at educating undergraduate women on finance and investments. During my first semester, I took part in the educational seminars, during which we underwent a 10-week business crash course and got to speak with professionals in the industry. I loved the community SWS provided me, making my pending decision all the more difficult.
After completing the probationary series, members can join the research team. SWS analysts conduct research on individual companies within an industry and present stock recommendations to the chapter’s investment board. When the senior analyst gave the healthcare industry overview presentation, I was immediately sold. As a healthcare analyst, I could still maintain my passion for science by researching cutting-edge medical companies all through a business lens. I asked myself questions like “How will recent healthcare legislation impact this company’s business model?” and “What drugs and technologies are in the company’s pipeline?”
SWS allowed me to blend my interests in healthcare and business. By making recommendations for dynamic healthcare companies that have the ability to change patient lives, I would help spur their growth and pursue business for the greater good.
My experience on the SWS research team inspired me to pursue healthcare investment banking at Houlihan Lokey (HL). After attending the McIntire New York Finance Trek, I secured a summer internship and a subsequent full-time offer with HL upon graduation. As a Summer Analyst, I leveraged the skills I mastered in SWS and applied them to each company we were trying to sell. We investigated the clients’ historical financials, growth strategy, and industry tailwinds and crafted our decks to showcase the company’s strengths to buyers. My SWS experience helped me secure the internship and made my contribution stronger.
If I had never walked into the SWS information session as a first-year, I would probably have a very different story to tell. McIntire is unique in that it has well-established student organizations that are entirely student-governed. I encourage you to join one of these organizations, just to explore the world of business, if you are a prospective Commerce student. You may like it, I can guarantee that you’ll learn a lot, and it may even shape your future.