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“I don’t want my finance journey to start and end with school. I want continuous growth opportunities to build upon my skill set and to advance my career in finance.”
– Hermela Tesfaye, 2021 Finance Internship Award winner

“My goal is to help transform the finance industry into something cutting edge and relevant.”
Mike Ruiz, 2022 Finance Internship Award winner

Two awards, two students, two careers launched. Both Hermela Tesfaye and Mike Ruiz say winning the School of Business Finance Internship Award was key to providing on-site summer experience – for Tesfaye at Bank of America and Ruiz at BNY Mellon. After that, there was no stopping them.

Hermela Tesfaye Changes Focus

Tesfaye says her internship award led to an unexpected outcome. “I thought I wanted to go into wealth management,” she explains, “but I ended up deciding that was not a good fit for me. The company was great, but I like numbers, data and analytical stuff. During my summer internship, it became obvious I was more suited to being an analyst than being an advisor.”

So Tesfaye made a focal pivot. Now hard at work in her first full-time job — at Capital One – she has switched to a fintech base where she can concentrate on honing her financial abilities. Specifically, she’s focusing on the Cap One tech teams who manage mobile apps and websites. There’s lots of analytical thinking involved, and “my manager let me take the lead on kickstarting some of the annual budget projects,” she grins.

Mike Ruiz Embraces NYC

Ruiz credits his internship with “getting the ball rolling.” Immediately after graduation next spring, he will start a full-time job at Citigroup in New York. At the same time, he’ll be working remotely on his VCU accelerated master’s degree. “Finance is being rebuilt from the ground up,” he says excitedly. “I dove into the tech aspect, because that’s how banks are reimagining the way they do business.”

If Ruiz indeed finds himself focusing on the digital dollar, it will be due to support from the entire VCU community. “I want to emphasize how all parts of VCU come together as one collaborative environment,” he says. Ruiz cites his time as a student worker in the College of Engineering’s IT department as experience instrumental to his success. He also credits the diversity of thought and experience among faculty members that enabled him to expand his horizons to New York City. “This award will end up having a direct impact on my success,” he predicts, “and I hope to make VCU proud.”

Career Services Rejoices

Katybeth Lee, Director of Business Career Services, says he already has. “Some of the most competitive internships that give students the biggest advantage are also in cities that have prohibitive costs of living and travel,” she explains. “This award helps close that gap so our students have the opportunity to say yes to fabulous internships that will launch their careers. We are so grateful to our donors for this support and can’t wait to see how these awards propel future students’ careers like they have for Hermela and Mike.”

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