Rising Leaders Program Enters Its Second Year

By the Department of Economics

The goal of the Economics Leadership Council (ELC) – to help students obtain competitive internships and be prepared for the demands and expectations of full-time employment in private industry – is well supported by the Rising Leaders Program. Last year, we were excited to announce the new Rising Leaders Program, which grew out of the partnership between the ELC and the Department of Economics. The program was created in response to alumni requests for assistance in expanding our network so that markets outside the San Diego region are more aware of the academic rigor of our department, and to recognize that our alumni can be great assets to the professional business market. Students are selected for the Rising Leaders Program based upon their academic merit, professional work experience, faculty recommendations and a statement of career objectives they believe the ELC can help them achieve.

The alumni involved with the program were an enormous resource for the inaugural Rising Leaders cohort. Our alumni conducted mock interviews, provided resume advice and marketed the selected Rising Leaders for internships in a highly competitive market. This generosity of time and support that our alumni have displayed is important to our students who, upon graduation, are facing an increasingly ferocious job market where the trend among employers is to hire young employees out of their competitive summer internships.

This year the department and the ELC worked to refine the Rising Leaders Program by focusing on mentorship. Because of generous alumni donations, each Rising Leader selected for the 2012-13 cohort was given a $1,500 scholarship. Each rising leader will work with the department, the ELC and our alumni to obtain impressive internships in the summer of 2013. We are proud to announce the 2012-13 cohort of Rising Leaders: five students determined to break into investment banking. Our Rising Leaders are impressive and, despite their common goal, come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

2012-13 Rising Leader Cohort

Maximillian Chua (management science)
Maximillian Chua
Management Science

Max Chua has his eyes set on a bulge bracket firm, perhaps focusing on energy and pricing.

Albert Koh (economics)
Albert Koh

Albert Koh has gleaned knowledge from his family in the enterprise software industry, and he plans to utilize this in technology, media and telecommunications (TMT).

Chris Kwok (joint mathematics-economics)
Chris Kwok
Joint Mathematics-Economics

Chris Kwok has experience in technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) and is looking to expand on that.

Thomas Wilson (management science)
Thomas Wilson
Management Science

Thomas Wilson’s family has a long history in the defense/aerospace sector, and he'd like an internship related to consulting at a Fortune 500 company focused on aerospace and defense or energy, or directly with a consulting firm.

Edward Youn (joint mathematics-economics)
Edward Youn
Joint Mathematics-Economics

Edward Youn looks to build on his experience as an intern at a boutique investment-banking firm in Los Angeles and at a private equity firm in La Jolla.

How Alumni Can Participate

Each Rising Leader is considered top of the class in his major, has prior business experience, and is deemed “business-ready” by the alumni executives on our Economics Leadership Council. To request a student’s portfolio, please contact Katie Magallanes at kmagallanes@ucsd.edu.

2011-12 Rising Leaders

Last year’s cohort of Rising Leaders had diverse interests spanning accounting, consulting, economic research and finance. Through this program, students try to find their way to crystalize their post-graduation goals. Each of them was successful at obtaining prestigious internships for the summer and had wonderful, insightful experiences to share.

Aimee Kang

Aimee Kang

Aimee Kang is working to build a career in accounting and was successful at securing an internship at Ernst & Young in assurance. She had the following to say about her experience: “My experience with Ernst & Young has been an amazing opportunity, and a step toward my career goal of being a forensic accountant. As an assurance intern, I was able to work at different client offices in different industries, and was even able to talk to clients for walk-through procedures. Throughout my internship, I was exposed to professionals from all levels, and even had my very own peer advisor, career counselor and partner mentor. Overall I had a positive internship, and am looking forward to working with the firm after graduation.” Aimee is now a senior majoring in economics.

Jayoo Song

Jayoo Song

Jayoo Song is working toward a career in management consulting and was fortunate to secure an international internship in Booz Allen Hamilton’s South Korea office as a research assistant supporting management consultants. He had this to say about his experience: “My research assistant position was a lot of fun, but also extremely challenging. From the start, I worked into the early morning hours pretty much every day. A few of the busier days I would work until 5 a.m. and leave my home at 8 a.m. Though it really depends on what kind of project you are working on, consulting generally requires you to work very hard. You have to be mentally and physically tough.”

Jayoo did a bit of preparation that paid off: “As a research assistant, I spent most of the time researching data and categorizing them using Excel ... I memorized pretty much all the short cuts in Excel before I started to work, and it really paid off.” One thing that Jayoo learned quickly was that research is a serious task. “I thought that researching was Googling. But that was not the case. When consultants wanted me to find something, it was essential to know why they needed it, and how they were going to use that information. Once you really understand this, then it is a lot easier for you to gather data you and consultants want.”

Overall, Jayoo learned throughout his internship what the life of a consultant really is: “Being able to talk to consultants and ask questions was probably the biggest opportunity for me. Now I know how they dress, how they eat and how they communicate with others. I hope to figure out how they think and solve problems like they do one day.” Jayoo graduated last spring with a degree in economics.

Ali Palida

Ali Palida

Ali Palida applied to the Rising Leaders program unsure of whether he wanted to move to the private sector or remain in academic research. His experience as a Rising Leader helped solidify his aspirations and, after graduating last spring from our joint mathematics and economics program, he accepted a full-time research assistant position at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Ali had this to say about his experience working as a researcher: “My time spent as an RA at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York this summer has been both productive and enjoyable. Within my few months here, I have come to realize that the job of an RA is far more than mere data gathering and entry. You are expected to be an active contributor to professional economic research, both for academic and policy purposes, through assisting economists in writing papers, conducting empirical analyses and reviewing theoretical work. This requires a solid understanding, as well as direct application, of the various concepts taught in economics and mathematics classes. Such a responsibility is both challenging as well as extremely rewarding. Being an RA is also perfect preparation for graduate study. It provides you with the necessary skills required to conduct independent research, where opportunities to develop these skills in undergraduate programs are often quite limited. The scope of the research conducted here is also very wide, ranging from microeconomics to finance. Anyone interested in graduate study in economics should definitely consider first taking a stop at one of the Federal Reserve banks.”

Rebecca Wagner

Rebecca Wagner

Rebecca Wagner, now a senior majoring in economics, hoped that the Rising Leaders Program would provide her with exposure to the work environment and help her narrow down career options. Under the guidance of UC San Diego alumnus Jerome Fons at Kroll Bond Ratings in New York, Rebecca was able to achieve her goal. At Kroll she was assigned to support work on a corporate default model: “My days were filled with SQL queries, Excel spreadsheets and Google. It is amazing how different econometrics in school is from how it is in the ‘real world’… During the econometrics series, I was constantly warned about how data is never found exactly how you want it, but we never had experience sorting through data. Organizing data was the most time consuming part of the entire process.” A self-professed Excel expert prior to the summer, Rebecca learned about capabilities of Excel that she never knew existed and gained valuable skills using SQL.

Rebecca was also able to grow through real-life work experience. According to her, “even though the purpose of my internship was narrowly based, I learned about and worked in a variety of different areas of the business. Jerry made sure to bring me into all types of rating committees from CMBS to public finance to learn about the rating process and about all the different types of securities that are rated at KBRA. I was also assigned small tasks outside of the corporate model, I even spent some time learning how to use a Bloomberg terminal.”

The internship was very positive: “As a whole this experience was amazing. It felt more like I was working at KBRA as a consultant than interning, since I usually imagine internships to be about getting coffee and making copies, neither of which I had to do. This internship definitely honed my technical skills on a variety of different programs. I got to learn a little bit about everything, and as someone who is still not entirely sure what she wants to do, learning is the only way to narrow it down. I think the biggest advantage one gains from an internship is learning what a job is like in the ‘real world’ and learning the different kind of jobs that are out there. While one is at college, one masters how to be a student, but college is a bubble that I believe hides the ‘real world’; especially at a research-based school like UC San Diego. While the skills I learned at UC San Diego were used repeatedly at my internship, the knowledge and skill set I gained at Kroll is completely different than what I have learned in college. Another benefit to my internship at Kroll was spending the summer in New York, which taught me a lot about who I am and what I want to do in the future.”