By Jubi Gauchan, Peer for Career
On a chilly December evening, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Chen, an alum of Baruch who graduated in June 2013. He majored in Finance and minored in Natural Sciences. As many stars of Baruch are, all through college life, he was heavily involved in various leadership activities and has interned in many different companies. He was also a former Peer for Careers and is currently working at New York Life Investments. Read on to find out more!
1. What year did you graduate? What was your major and minor?
I graduated in June 2013. My major was Finance and I minored in Natural Sciences.
2. Where do you work and what is your current role?
I work in New York Life Investments, which is the investment arm of New York Life Insurance Company. I am currently an Associate in the Strategic Technology Investments Group, which is essentially the corporate venture capital team at NY Life. My team invests in technology start-up companies as well as venture capital funds. We have a mandate of bringing innovative technology companies into NY Life and we introduce their technology to the firm.
3. Could you tell us a little bit about your experience in Baruch? Did you participate in any clubs or organizations?
I had a great time at Baruch. It is a great bang for the buck!
In freshman year I was still debating on whether to focus on pre-med or go into Finance. Then in my sophomore year, I joined TEAM Baruch and then Peers for Careers. At the same time, I started to explore different clubs. I joined Beta Alpha Psi and became an Assistant Treasurer. I was also in the Bio-Med Society. I also started a non-profit on campus called Baruch Operation Smile. We were a student club arm of the non-profit called Operation Smile, where they provide free procedures for children in developing countries born with cleft lips. I was the President and Co-founder. For my sophomore year, I was recruiting members and building out the operations and then mainly focused on developing it further during my junior and senior year. We originally started with 4 members and then by the time I passed on the baton, we had 40 members. Besides that, I was also the Chief Operating Officer for Financiers without Borders.
4. Please name some steps that helped you to launch your first full time job?
The Peers for Careers program got me started with career development and prepped me with all the skills necessary to get my first internship at JP Morgan in the Baruch Extended Finance Internship Program. I was working there through most of my sophomore year. Then, I moved to Bank of America to explore a wealth management internship. After that, I went back to JP Morgan after finding out about an opportunity from fellow Peers: the Inter-year Operations Program, where I worked as a part-time Analyst for the rest of my college life. In between that, for summer during my junior year, I interned at Société Générale in Emerging Markets Trading. After that, I joined the investment management program at New York Life Investments full-time.
In sum, the Peers program combined with the experiences of club life and starting my own club on-campus built a strong foundation for me that helped me obtain all the internships. Then, all the internships built up the right skills that helped me to market myself as a suitable and competent applicant.
5. What are the qualities that are the most valuable for your current position and your company?
The qualities would be the ability to take initiative, being able to work without being given directions, taking ownership of projects, multi-tasking and developing professional skills such as how to interact with people. All these are important especially at work where I meet with entrepreneurs and have to work with different types of people.
6. Could you tell us about the challenges you faced when you first started your full time job?
It was a new team so there was no procedure to follow. In a lot of big companies, there is always a predecessor before you, who would give you the documentation of what to do and describe your day-to-day job duties. However here, we had to help build the process for it from scratch, which was extremely exciting.
Transitioning into full-time was also different. The transition from Intern to Analyst or Associate where you get more responsibilities and you have to think about where you want your career to go were some things I had to deal with.
Initially, I had wanted to be a trader so all the steps I took in college was to prepare for that role. Thus, getting into the venture capital field was not my original intention. However, when I stumbled upon the job, I found it to be very interesting and enjoyable.
7. If you were to give one advice to Baruch students, what would it be?
Be open to opportunities. Never look down upon an opportunity because it is a job that you do not like. You never know what doors might be opened next from there and where it might lead you to. Thus, jump on any opportunities that you find and do not be afraid to do it.