“I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I could.”
So says Sarah Gleason of her experience at Stevens Institute of Technology, which has been unusually eventful and will soon transition to a career in finance. Admitted as a Stevens Scholar, the business and technology major has taken part in one of the most important research competitions (the Solar Decathlon) for the university, studied abroad in Greece, and also participated in myriad community service activities (including Habitat for Humanity) — all while building an impressive portfolio of internships at some of the world’s leading corporations.
The Ocean Township, New Jersey native will begin a two-year rotational program as a technical analyst at global financial services giant Credit Suisse in New York after graduation. It’s an opportunity she says was made possible by a business curriculum grounded in technology and career-launching internships.
A 21st century business education
What sets the School of Business at Stevens apart from other business schools, explains Gleason, is the strong technology foundation that underlies each of its programs. That technical knowledge stands out during job interviews, she notes, adding that her non-traditional business courses, such as programming for mobile applications and systems analysis and design, helped give her an advantage when speaking to prospective employers.
“The investment banking workforce is changing, and a lot of that is due to technology,” she says.
“Employers are looking to hire people who know how to leverage technology to improve business processes, and ultimately make smarter business decisions. And that’s something that business technology majors, and students who go to Stevens in any of the business programs, get to showcase in their interviews.”
Getting 'career-ready' by taking the long view
Supported by a career center she describes as “one of the best in the nation,” Gleason has had internships since her sophomore year at Stevens. That makes sense: the university’s impressive reputation for job placement and access to meaningful internship experiences was the primary reason Gleason chose to come to Stevens.
“I’ve had three amazing internships – first at Fox News in its accounting department, then during a summer internship at Credit Suisse in its technology department [leading to the eventual job offer], and now at HighTower Advisors, a wealth management firm, as part of its global investment solutions team.”
Although her career journey will begin at Credit Suisse, Gleason continues to soak up as much work experience as she can while at Stevens in an effort to broaden her understanding of the financial services industry. Her current experience at Hightower, she says, is giving her a glimpse of what her career might look like ten years from now.
“It’s really advancing my knowledge of financial services. There’s jargon in that industry that you have to pick up, and I think that’s my biggest takeaway from there – learning the lingo and the culture. I’m really enjoying my time there and it'll be bittersweet to leave in May.”
Location, location, location
It wasn’t by coincidence that all Gleason’s internships have been based in Manhattan. Stevens’ proximity to New York City opened up a wealth of corporate internship opportunities both during her academic studies and during the intervening summers.
“The ability to hop on a bus, ferry or train right now, and be at work in about 30 minutes, is absolutely amazing,” she says.
Gleason will call the city home after graduation – her start date at Credit Suisse is in July – and is already getting a taste of New York’s ultra-competitive real estate market.
“It’s always been my dream to move to Manhattan. I visited my first apartment yesterday. But you have to act fast because they go on and off the market so quickly.”
Unique experiences on campus and abroad
For Gleason, some of her most defining experiences at Stevens stemmed from her role as a resident assistant (RA). As the eldest of six children, she embraced the role of mentoring new students as they transitioned from high school to college.
“Being an RA is a privilege, and something I do not take for granted.”
There have been many other memorable experiences at Stevens. As a Stevens Scholar, Gleason had the opportunity to travel to Greece and take part in a three-credit international business course, meeting with industry leaders in that nation in the process.
Selection as a Stevens Scholar also afforded Gleason with a rare opportunity to participate in the design and construction of Stevens’ 2015 Solar Decathlon house, which garnered 1st place at the prestigious U.S. Department of Energy competition in Irvine, California in fall 2015.
“I was the sponsorship manager, so I had to explain, at a very high level, what was going on in each facet of the house to potential partners and sponsors like Popular Science and ExxonMobil. The biggest takeaway for me from that project was the real-world experience of being able to present and sell a product.”
And her Stevens career isn't quite finished yet. Those honed presentation skills will be put to the test when Gleason and four Stevens classmates present their senior design project – a financial literacy program for local high school students — at the annual Stevens Innovation Expo May 3. Gleason will give the elevator pitch for the project in hopes of securing a cash prize for the team.