By Kirk Kardashian
Published Jul 30, 2013
Ashley Conti T'13 converted an internship into a dream job in investment management. Learn how her classmates found theirs.
The vast majority of Tuck students in the class of 2013 are finding well-paying, fulfilling careers. On the eve of Tuck’s June 8 investiture ceremony, Tuck’s Career Development Office (CDO) estimates that the percentage of the graduating class that has accepted or received job offers is equal to, or slightly better than, the numbers in 2011 and 2012, Tuck’s strongest employment years. This is a testament to the students’ hard work and the strength of the Tuck curriculum and network.
For CDO director Jonathan Masland, there’s another reason to celebrate: students this year are being more selective about where they will work. “This class is more willing to roll the dice and not jump at the first opportunity,” he says. “They’re also taking more time to explore less traditional jobs, and moving to new cities with the confidence they can find work when they get there.”
Among those who have accepted jobs, the choices of four students illustrate the success and diversity of the career paths for the class of 2013.
Ashley Conti – DDJ Capital Management – Boston, Mass.
Ashley Conti came to Tuck with an admittedly niche career goal: to work at an investment management company that specializes in high-yield debt and special situations, in Boston. Right away, she limited her potential employers to roughly four. That meant she had to work extra hard in and out of the classroom to make her dream a reality.
During her first year at Tuck, while she and her classmates were adjusting to the rigorous demands of business school, Conti did a mini-internship with Tuckerman Capital, in Hanover. There, Nicholas Russell T’10 helped her look at companies as investments, something she didn’t have to do in her previous job helping distressed firms get through bankruptcy. To get specific experience in investing in distressed companies, Conti convinced Marianna Fassinotti T’07 to let her see the inner workings of her New York firm, Siguler Guff & Company.
Her connection with her ultimate employer—DDJ Capital Management—also came through Tuck. The founder of the company had visited Tuck a few years ago to speak in a class, so Conti emailed him to talk about distressed investing. Eventually she met another person at the firm, through a classmate. Those relationships resulted in a summer internship at DDJ, a mid-sized firm that does opportunistic high-yield investment, loaning money to companies with a higher risk profile than average.
“I noticed when I was working in my internship how much I had changed since before Tuck,” she explains. “The core curriculum really gave me a strong base set of skills. I learned how to think better, and I gained the confidence to have an opinion and speak my mind.”
That confidence will be important in her full time job at DDJ, which she starts this summer. “I got exactly what I wanted out of business school,” she says. “I learned a tremendous amount, and I got a job that I really enjoy.”
Henrique Thielen – Samsung Global Strategy Group – Seoul, Korea
Henrique Thielen is from Caracas, Venezuela, but he’s also lived in Panama, Colombia, Mexico, and the U.S. That nomadic history would leave some people tired of traveling, but not Thielen. “I love changes and challenges,” he says. Which is why, even after receiving a job offer from PepsiCo in U.S., where he was a summer intern, Thielen chose to take a position in Korea with the Global Strategy Group (GSG) of Samsung Electronics.
While he’ll be based in Korea, the job entails traveling across the globe to work with the company’s various business units to develop strategies and implement projects. “It’s a huge change from what I’ve been doing, and from a cultural perspective too,” he says.
Thielen is one of five T’13s going to work for Samsung in Korea this year, and he will join a strong contingent of Tuck alumni who are already working there. This reflects Tuck’s close relationship with the company, which recruits for GSG positions at Tuck and just a handful of other business schools in the U.S.
But even with that advantage, Thielen still benefited from the Tuck network during his interview process. “Reaching out to Tuck alumni at Samsung was phenomenally helpful,” he shares. “They helped me understand the company and to prepare for the interviews and presentations that were part of the application process. If I hadn’t contacted Tuck alumni, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job.”
Ying Zhao – Vornado Realty Trust – New York, N.Y.
During breaks from her job as an auditor for Ernst & Young in Beijing, Ying Zhao liked to walk around the restaurants and retail stores beneath her office building, which spanned two blocks and straddled a subway station. She realized she liked real estate when she started making mental notes of the vacancies and was excited about what store or eatery would move in. She had come a long way from her small village in northeastern China, but she wanted to go further.
Zhao came to Tuck with the specific desire to break into the real estate industry, a historically tight-knit sector where it really helps to know someone. After a summer internship with a real estate private equity fund, and a mini-internship with an owner-operator of high-end retail outlets in Europe, Zhao sent an email to the CEO of Vornado Realty Trust, who is also a member of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees. Vornado, one of the largest real estate firms in the U.S., owns more than 100 million square feet of retail and office space, primarily in New York and Washington, D.C. To Zhao’s surprise, the CEO agreed to meet with her. He connected Zhao with an executive vice president in the Acquisitions and Capital Markets Team, and they hit it off.
While going through an extended vetting process for another job opportunity, Vornado again surprised Zhao, this time with an offer of employment. This summer, she will join the firm as an associate in Acquisitions and Capital Markets, doing market research, valuation, underwriting, and building models; in essence, following the entire transaction cycle. “It’s literally exactly what I wanted to do,” Zhao says.
Ankur Kumar – Bain & Company – Houston, Texas
Two weeks after graduating from New York University, Ankur Kumar unexpectedly found himself entering Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va. What happened? For one, his parents had come from India and he felt so grateful for the opportunities in the U.S. that he wanted to give back. Then 9/11 occurred and Kumar was in lower Manhattan watching the towers come down. “I saw that as an attack on our way of life,” he says.
Even though Kumar had an exhilarating job in the Marine Corps—flying CH-46 transport helicopters—he knew that the military wasn’t his ultimate career. “I wanted to gain the knowledge and credibility to enter the business world,” he explains, “and I thought the best way to do that was in business school.”
Given his background with aviation, Kumar took an internship with the aerospace company United Technologies Corp. “After the internship, I wanted to branch out from aerospace and get exposure to different industries and different problems,” he says. The perfect venue for that, he learned, was consulting.
Bain & Company has a long history with Tuck and is one of the many consulting firms that recruits on campus. Kumar was helped through the process by Jackie O’Brien T’12, who talked to him about office locations and the different industries he might be working in. “When I mentioned I was interested in the Houston office, she immediately put me in touch with the people there,” he says, “and it was really helpful to have conversations with them about what type of work they’re doing, and the lifestyle and work culture.”