Name: Zarina Mehta
Class Year: 2021
Major: Math and International Studies
Hometown: Somerset, N.J.
Internship Organization: Strategies for Wealth
Job Title: Summer Intern
Endowed Internship Funding Award: Julia '84 and Steven Guggenheimer Internship Fund
Location: New York, N.Y.
What’s happening at your internship?
Strategies for Wealth is a financial services advisory firm located in the financial district in New York City. The organization’s unique process involves offering their clients an all-encompassing, 360º perspective of their finances. At Strategies, we focus on a protection-first mindset and strive to transform the lives of our clients by achieving wealth and wellness. As part of my internship, I am responsible for prospecting potential clients from my personal communities and conducting meetings with them and senior advisors of the firm. I am required to seek out individuals who would either benefit from what the firm does or individuals who are curious to learn more about Strategies for Wealth.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I have always been fascinated by a career in the financial services industry, and I wanted to learn more this summer as the Tri-Co does not offer many classes in this field. Being a mathematics and international studies double major, I felt that an internship that included a quantitative component in a client-facing role would allow me to put the knowledge and skills that I have developed through my studies into practice. The internship was designed as a “career sampling,” and it has given me a great opportunity to do just that.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship? What is most rewarding about your internship?
While applying for internships, one of the first things I did before sending out an application was to research each organization’s mission statement. Specifically, in the financial services industry, I wanted to find out more on how the organization was absolving discrimination in the workplace towards women as I was aware of the lack of gender balance in the financial services industry. However, it was only after I started my internship that I faced this reality. Out of a cohort of seven interns, I was the only woman. Even when attending firm-wide meetings and training sessions with several advisors, I could count the number of women in attendance on one hand. What struck me was not just the lack of equal gender representation, but a clearly obvious limited female representation. I realized that despite efforts to bridge this gap, we certainly have a long way to go to before gender equality and representation at all levels is reached in finance.
Since I have always wanted to explore the financial services industry, I aimed to gain a better understanding by the end of this summer. As much as I enjoy the benefits of a well-rounded liberal arts education and am grateful for the exposure to industry events sponsored by our Career & Civic Engagement Center and organizations like the Forté Foundation, I feel that this internship has allowed me to learn aspects of business that the Tri-Co course offering does not include.
Each week, my supervisor organized a speaker program where advisors across the firm were invited to have an intimate conversation with the seven interns. Out of about 15 speakers, we had the opportunity to speak with a woman advisor. I was grateful that my supervisor steered the conversation towards the challenges she faced as a woman in this industry. At the end of her talk, I had a chance to personally ask her about her experiences and gain her perspectives on the career.
A few hours after the meeting ended, I was delighted to see that she had personally emailed me requesting a private meeting. As I chatted with her over a Zoom call, we bonded instantly. She had a wealth of information to share, and it was heartening to hear about her experiences, challenges, and how she overcame them. One of her comments is something that will stay with me always. She likened herself to a bright, striking flamingo in a room full of dull, ordinary pigeons, referring to men in their boring gray suits. This metaphor forced me to think about how I, too, could position myself, to my advantage, as a woman in a male dominated industry. I realized the value of being different and the new perspectives I could bring to the team.
Additionally, attending a women’s college has provided me with a sense of empowerment, which has allowed me to push barriers, challenge myself, and speak up in the workplace. My supervisor has been incredibly impressed with my work so far and continues to encourage me to pursue this career path. At the onset of my internship, I made it my mission to be noticed and make a lasting impression, and the most rewarding part of my internship is that I have succeeded in doing so. I have embraced being that “flamingo” and have used it to my advantage.
Visit the Summer 2020 Internships page to read more student stories.