Advice From an Alum
Samantha Matin (Sam) hails from the UK. She completed a Master of Science in Public Policy from the University of London and a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Management from the University of Birmingham. During her MBA at Baruch College, Ms. Matin had greatly contributed to the development of Zicklin Women in Business in her role as President. Currently a Vice President on Wall Street, Sam found time in her busy schedule to share her professional perspective on what it takes to be successful in the business world.
As both an international student and a career changer Ms. Matin creatively approached many challenges faced by current students. We are thankful for her time and insights.
Her career in finance started as a summer intern. Sam told us, “I treated the internship as a job interview.” By being proactive, doing more than what was required, and paying attention to everyone from the cleaning lady to the top management, she made a lasting impression. This led to a full-time job offer couple of months before graduation. As Ms. Matin acknowledged several times throughout the interview, success depends on thorough planning. That is exactly how she managed work and study. Before starting her full time job she did all school reading and projects in advance. She was then able to dedicate herself entirely to her work despite having 5 night classes to take, with no detriment to her GPA.
During her time as a graduate student, Sam was most grateful for the team projects. “Baruch College is a great place to practice the skills of managing team and time”. She has high praise of Baruch students. According to her, they have the knowledge but also the right attitude, are outspoken, organized and confident.
A career changer herself, she doesn’t advise to change the job function and the industry simultaneously as this is far more challenging and doesn’t allow one to build on his/her previous experiences. She offers students several tips for a successful career start and development:
1) Seek knowledge: join professional networks, mentorship programs, professional fairs or webinars; set connections with companies of interest and maintain them, at least once every couple of months.
2) Seek friends: “don’t be elitist”. Career changers and international students need to build their own networks from scratch. New York City is a great place for that.
3) Know the industry: stay informed in detail with everything that goes on in the industry, but also pay attention to the larger world. A successful professional is a well-rounded professional
4) Be innovative and subtle in approaching people and handling tasks. In seeking internships or jobs, one can differentiate himself/herself from other candidates through improvement suggestions, targeted questions about company products, etc., rather than the usual pitch.
In terms of cover letters and resumes, Sam mentioned the importance of never leaving out any work experience, even if that is not related to the position one seeks. Typos or bad formatting are other two common mistakes that students make. Sam also attacked the myths of what recruiters favor most: academic excellence or something else. There needs to be a balance. GPA is not the key to landing a great job especially if getting that great GPA means that you miss out on participating in leadership roles in extracurricular activities. Recruiters seek candidates who bear the minimum GPA, but show involvement in their communities, are capable multi-taskers and possess excellent interpersonal skills.
Article written by Anastasia Antoniev for the Zicklin Women in Business 2012 Spring/Summer Editoral. Click here to download a full copy of the editorial.