Some people have always known they wanted to work on Wall Street. Others have always expected to start their own business. And others still have fallen into a business major due to personal experience – financial trouble in their youth, the desire to work in more than one field, an escape from less appealing sectors, and even purely by chance. Below are the stories of four undergraduate business students whose personal aha moments illustrate solid reasons to go to business school.
Nancy Bonds, McCombs School of Business
Nancy Bonds was in high school when the 2008 financial crisis hit and her mother lost her job. She’s now a rising senior at the University of Texas at Austin in the McCombs School of Business, is majoring in finance, and cites her interest in business back to a car ride with her mother and a high school essay.
“When I was a junior in high school it was around the end of the biggest part of the financial crisis, after all the banks were being bailed out. My mom had lost her job – she worked at Radio Shack at the time – and we were riding in the car to school, listening to NPR and hearing about the bailout,” Bonds said. “All my mom did was complain about it. After about 10 minutes of listening to her complaining, I was like, ‘Do you even know what’s going on?’”
Bonds’ parents are divorced, and she described her financial situation at that time as frustrating and also awkward.
“Every other week I switched from house to house with my twin sister,” she said. “It was an awkward division. I went to a small, private school in a pretty wealthy county in Texas, but my mom didn’t have a ton of money. It made me want to learn more about the financial crisis, and it make me want people like my mom, who blamed a lot of the crisis on people and things she didn’t really understand, to learn about it too.”
Her junior year in high school she was required to write a 10 page research paper for her English class – which she says was a daunting task back then. The topic could be anything, as long as it was controversial, and her friends were picking pop-culture subjects like the show Toddlers and Tiaras. Bonds, however, wrote about the financial crisis, and her main argument ended up showcasing how people were uninformed and were jumping to irrational conclusions.
“At that point, I was starting to really want to go to business school, because I knew finance was not something I could inherently understand, but that it was something that was very useful, and something that a lot of people were missing,” Bonds said. “I wanted to better understand how people and the government and the financial sector work together to make the economy function.”
Ainsley Campbell, the Wharton School
Ainsley Campbell, a rising junior at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, found her way to business through science. Growing up she says she thought she would be a doctor or an astronaut, competed in computer science competitions, and completed a project in her home town which got her into the White House Summit on Environmental Education.
“My project was an attempt to deal with the mosquito problem in a local park – to combat West Nile Virus. There was a huge problem, and they needed a more sustainable solution other than pesticides, which were causing a huge controversy. There was spraying in a lot of towns, so my senior year in high school I built bat houses. Bats are a natural predator.”
When it came time to apply for college, however, Campbell was drawn to Wharton, not just because it’s a great business school, but because she thought a business education could be highly interdisciplinary. “I liked that I could do what I would have been doing at another school, you know, maybe the environmental track, maybe taking classes in philosophy, or politics.”
She is currently majoring in economics and environmental science, and is spending this summer working at the Department of Energy in Washington D.C.
“When I was going into my sophomore year, l felt like this early in my college career was the time to explore my options, especially in terms of what I want to do long term. So I chose this internship because I’m getting to work in finance and in the investment side of energy. And it’s really exciting to just be in Washington.”