May 30, 2021
By Rob Humphreys ’16MBA
Thousands of miles from home, Izadora Correa Bongiolo ’22, like all first-year students, was naturally a little uncertain about what college life would hold. Would she fit in? Understand the culture? Be able to chart a meaningful career? Thankfully, it didn’t take long for the native of Porto Alegre, Brazil, to find her gateway.
During her second semester, economics professor Anca Voicu recommended she apply for a pilot program, Women in Finance, open to female students of any major. In fall 2019, Bongiolo and four other Tars made up the first cohort.
Taught by Voicu and business professor Christine Jubelt, the program includes one-on-one advising through the Office of Business Advising—now centrally located in Kathleen W. Rollins Hall—in addition to mentoring through the Crummer Graduate School of Business, alumni networking, site visits, Excel training, internships, and a semester-long, independent study course.
“The program definitely changed my life because it gave me a path to follow and helped me establish my goals,” says Bongiolo. “I’m a totally different person now. I feel like I’m more of a leader.”
With growing confidence, Bongiolo declared a double major in international business and economics. She began tutoring fellow students in economics and statistics, became a member of the Business Student Leadership Council, and, with the help of director of business advising Tres Loch ’07 ’08MBA, landed an internship at Winter Park’s Key Investment Group, a firm with an international focus.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic cut her internship short, as it did for classmates Maggie Andreasen ’21 ’22MBA, who worked at Disney in the People Analytics division this past spring, and Stephanie Block ’22, who was set to intern at Merrill Lynch. But Bongiolo still came away with valuable lessons in stock and currency research, client relations, and the global economic fallout of a black swan event.
“It was a great experience because it opened my eyes to new ideas,” says Bongiolo. “I got to meet and learn from a lot of people who gave me such valuable guidance and insight into what working in the finance field would really be like.”
As director of business advising, Loch coordinates the Women in Finance program. He points to a study by the University of California at Davis that found women hold just 18 percent of the nation’s jobs in finance, which is even less than STEM fields.
Through Women in Finance, Rollins aims to improve that number by preparing students to secure and complete a summer internship between their sophomore and junior years and to explore career pathways after graduation.
“The students’ growth in their knowledge and confidence has been remarkable,” says Loch. “Over the course of the year, they have grown professionally, academically, and personally, and are poised to pursue a career in some aspect of finance.”
Nearly double the students made up the second cohort this past fall, with nine alumni mentors joining the effort, including Titian Austin ’80, managing director and wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch.