Ciocca Center Intern Shares Path to Finance

Leif Johnson ’21, Economics Major
Fall 2019 Ciocca Center Intern

Coming into freshman year at Holy Cross I played lacrosse, and only lacrosse. That is who I was my entire life. I am very thankful for the lessons in teamwork and leadership along with the life long friends I made being that these are things I will have forever. I was never in any extracurriculars being that I truly thought all I would do is go to college, play lacrosse, and graduate with a job waiting for me. However, at the beginning of my sophomore year that all changed when I sat down and thought about all the things I wanted to explore on campus and beyond. 

I began my sophomore year wanting to step outside of my comfort zone and find out not only what Holy Cross had to offer, but also what this world had to offer. It began with joining extracurriculars like the HC Student Investment Fund and Finance Club, and joining the business program through the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society to supplement my desire to pursue a career in finance. Additionally, I joined an acting club, uni2act, where I collaborated with 12 other students to write and perform an original play in front of over 300 people. I never thought I would perform in a play in a million years, but the Holy Cross liberal arts education allows individuals to try new things each and every day.  I also decided to study abroad for the spring semester of my junior year at UCD in Dublin, Ireland. Being that I had never been to Europe, I figured this would be an excellent time to explore and experience different cultures while also getting a world-class education.

A byproduct of my decisions to explore has helped me succeed in the classroom. Freshman year I was nowhere near dean’s list; however, I was able to garner dean’s list first honors for both semesters of sophomore year and show myself that anything is possible when you set your mind to it.

Recruiting timeline/internships:

It is okay to not know what you want to do.  The Holy Cross liberal arts education gives you the opportunity to explore various areas of interest and make decisions based on those experiences.  Both of my parents are first generation college students who studied medicine and became doctors. Recognizing early on that I was not interested in medicine (or blood) pushed me to explore other career options.  By joining the various extracurriculars, courses, and business program workshops I realized that finance was the career path I wanted to pursue.

My relevant experiences have included an internship at Blueprint Capital Advisors LLC this past winter and summer, and a wealth management internship at UBS during the summer of 2018. This fall I am interning in the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society at Holy Cross through AIP where I am interviewing alumni and promoting the notion that you can “major in anything and succeed in business.” While building on my strong network, I will reach out to interview alumni and show the connection between liberal arts and the business world.

Along with my course work and internships, I have made sure to make networking a priority.  My drive stems from attending the Finance Boot Camp through the Ciocca Center in NYC over fall break during my sophomore year. Alumni reiterated that it isn’t just your GPA or any one extracurricular, but rather your demonstrated interest that speaks volumes to where you will eventually end up as an analyst. From that advice, I made it a commitment to email and set up phone calls with at least 3-5 people per week during my sophomore year. That year I visited firms like Bank of America, BlackRock, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Jefferies, and UBS where I spent the day meeting various alumni and other professionals. This network has created a snowball effect for me where meeting one person leads to another bank visit, another coffee chat, and another recruiter’s contact information. Putting names to faces and meeting as many people in person as possible has been incredibly valuable!  

With regards to applications, I have found that it is extremely important to do the leg work and the networking so that when you submit your application you have multiple people vouching for you. The more the better. Now, in my junior year, I am continuing to build my network and prepare for interviews and Superdays. Overall, I have noticed that networking has helped me get my foot in the door and it is now up to me to get the offer. 

Thank you to Leif Johnson ’21 for sharing his experiences and helpful tips in the finance industry.  Best of luck with interviews!

Cassie Gevry
Associate Director, Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society