Name: Joy Rukanzakanza
Class Year: 2019
Major: International Studies
Hometown: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Internship: BlackRock Inc.
Title: Aladdin Client Services Intern
Location: New York, Summer 2019
When I received my internship offer from BlackRock last fall, I had mixed emotions. I was ecstatic for a golden opportunity to engage a firm which is the world’s largest in the asset management industry, given my non-traditional academic background. However, my emotions were vacillating owing to this overwhelming inherent fear of failure. I would have to move to one of the most expensive cities in the world, get affordable housing, figure out my way around the city and find a group of friends to ensure I keep my sanity during the summer. All of this was worsened by the fact that I am not a finance major, neither am I an economics guru nor a computer science student and here I was, about to pursue a 10-week program at a Wall Street firm with a role that integrated my Achilles heels — finance and technology.
It wasn’t until my internship commenced that I realized that no amount of preparation could have readied me for the summer, because even if one had vast backgrounds in both finance and technology, BlackRock was still a new company with different subject matters and different ways of tackling different challenges. The first two weeks were extremely challenging because we underwent intensive coding drill sessions, which exposed me to so many new ways of solving problems and still enlightened me on how much I did not know — which meant sleepless study nights during the summer. Instead of that demoralizing me, it prompted me to develop strategies on how to be an excellent performer despite having minimal resources and background knowledge. I found myself strategically devising ways of not only being a good fit for the role but of making the role a good fit for me as well.
I looked no further than my major. Being an International Studies major meant that I had enjoyed the benefits of pursuing a plethora of disciplines in the social sciences field — from studying ethnography in anthropology to learning about the impact of power struggles in political science. This course load helped me develop a holistic view of the world, shape different patterns of thought around issues that affect us on a daily and consolidated my presentation and teamwork capabilities since there were group presentations on almost every course I took. I therefore applied my presentation skills which were constantly sculpted during my academic career at Bryn Mawr during the internship, which worked in my favor since group presentations formed the core of my internship experience. As an intern in the Aladdin Client Services (ACS) division, a role which requires one to constantly communicate with clients and tackle challenging problems with the most professional demeanor, applying that skillset helped set a solid foundation for success during the summer.
Apart from learning about the business of the firm, the internship proffered me opportunities to establish professional and social networks through avenues such as coffee chats, firm-wide social events and volunteering opportunities. Most importantly, I was honored to be part of an organization that not only cares about delivering high-quality service to its clients, but also cares about the communities those clients come from as well. It is such principles, coupled with a fulfilling summer experience, that therefore aided my decision to return to BlackRock for a full-time opportunity next year.