Rutgers University–Newark alumni got into the giving spirit this holiday season by offering sage career advice to scholarship students as part of the Fall 2021 Scholars Workshop.
The hourlong event, held virtually last week due to the Covid-19 pandemic, featured presentations and discussion from three young alumnae, two of whom graduated from the School of Arts and Sciences Newark, followed by a vibrant Q&A session with student attendees.
Brittany Hale (SASN ’09/Honors College), Sophie Faltas (SASN ’12, RBSG ’16 (MBA)/Honors College), and Chioma Igwebuike (RBS ’17) spoke on a range of topics, including networking, landing the first job, salary negotiating, and advice they would give their younger selves.
“Brittany, Sophie and Chioma did a wonderful job of sharing their Rutgers-Newark stories and inspiring our scholarship students,” said Nancy Masterson-Newkirk, Donor Relations and Stewardship Officer for RU-N, who moderated the event.
Hale, who has a B.A. in History and Political Science from RU-N and a law degree from Boston University, emphasized the need to remain open to new possibilities as students navigate their career.
Faced with a tough job market in 2012 after law school, rather than pursue the traditional law-firm route, Hale worked as a securities litigation analyst at Bloomberg LP, advising subscriber firms on SEC regulatory issues. A year later she moved into an account executive role, advising firms on how to use the financial information within Bloomberg’s legal research platform to gain a competitive advantage in their industry.
As the oldest child in her family, Hale said she had always been focused on doing the “right thing” and following “a straight line” in her career, but faced with the realities of the market, she needed to think outside the box and see how her skills could be transferrable.
“I found that being open to opportunities and tapping into your multiple interests is important, especially now when we’re taught to specialize in one thing,” she said.
Wherever you go, engage with your classes, your professors, and your classmates, because we have a unique experience at Rutgers-Newark.
She’s done just that, leveraging her analytical and presentation skills to land an in-house counsel job for one of her Bloomberg corporate clients, where she did trial work, something she swore she’d never do. She then combined the lessons from her client-engagement and trial work to start her own business, BND Consulting, helping businesses to align their operations with their core values to make better decisions.
During the panel discussion, Hale stressed the importance of values not only for her companies but for students: that is, connecting with one’s own values and letting them guide you.
“If you’re focusing on those values, it’s okay if you don’t know what they look like now, but I encourage you to be open to different expressions of it because it can lead you to new spaces,” Hale said.
Faltas, who majored in political science and received her MBA in finance and accounting, works an Associate Director in the Fixed Income Product Management group of the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC). Prior to that she worked at TD Securities, Inc., where she rotated through several practice areas and specialties, including mergers and acquisitions, U.S. corporate tax, CCAR/stress testing, regulatory and management reporting, and U.S. Treasury and balance sheet management.
Before joining TD Securities in 2016, Faltas held finance positions at PwC and the Sec Institute. She started her career out of college following her passion for political science, working as a legislative assistant for former New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg and as a campaign fundraising consultant for Senator Bob Menendez and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.
Those varied experiences really helped Faltas develop “soft skills, helped me learn about the world and how to deal with people effectively,” she said.
Igwebuike, who majored in accounting and is a Senior Analyst at Goldman Sachs, moved to the U.S. from Nigeria when she was 5 and grew up in Newark. She stressed, among other things, the importance of getting involved in campus activities, connecting with professors, and learning from the remarkably diverse community at RU-N. She said she still calls former professors and peers when she has questions about career decisions.
“Wherever you go, engage with your classes, your professors, and your classmates, because we have a unique experience at Rutgers-Newark,” she said.
Igwebuike, who interned at Goldman Sachs during days while taking RBS courses at night, also emphasized to student attendees how fortunate they are to be attending an urban university that is also close to New York City, saying how that enables them to be very flexible, creative and entrepreneurial with their college career.
The Scholars Workshops, which are open to scholarship students from all RU-N schools and colleges, began in 2017 and are held once a semester to enable them to hear from alumni guest speakers and learn about the culture of philanthropy at RU-N. This was the ninth workshop so far, and the third virtual one.
"We're so glad that the virtual workshops have gone so well,” said Masterson-Newkirk. “We wanted to make it a meaningful opportunity for students to learn from our alumni, who are so kind about sharing their time and talent with their alma mater. The students also learned how much their Rutgers affiliation will help them throughout their careers and their lives, no matter what they choose to do after graduation."