A life-long learner in the finance sector

A life-long learner, dedicated humanitarian, and a talented professional in the finance sector combine all together, and we have Karla Figueroa ’13.

Before Beloit

What were some of the high school experiences that helped prepare you for college and potentially shape you into the person you are today?

I would say that many of my interests have been shaped by my personal experience of being an immigrant and not having any family members work in finance corporations in the United States. In high school, I was always interested in understanding why the world works in the way it does and the power system across the globe. With that being said, I volunteered in various community service organizations. I also enjoyed taking the AP World History class. Altogether, these experiences helped set me up with what I wanted to do in colleges, such as majoring in International Relations and Economics.

What drew you to Beloit College?

When applying for colleges, I was looking for a place with a strong focus on the international aspects and a tight-knit community to quickly form close relationships with professors. I remember that Beloit College was my wild card on my college list as I decided to apply after seeing its profile through the college manual handbook. However, Beloit really stood out to me during my college visit. I loved Beloit’s student-centric culture in the way the students really got the opportunity to involve themselves and have a lot of input into what happened on campus. The relationships between professors and students were close. Especially for me, the opportunity to go abroad while at college definitely grabbed my attention. Altogether, I decided Beloit would be the perfect fit for me to learn and grow.

 

Year 1

How do you feel about your first year in college?

As I mentioned, I came to Beloit intending to go in-depth with International Relations (IR) and Economics, so I was really excited to further my understanding by taking courses in those fields in my freshman year. I consider myself lucky to have my first-year seminar advisor, Professor Warren Palmer, become my 4-year and lifelong advisor. He encouraged me to go beyond my degree in Economics and suggested that I take on new challenges that interested me. He is also a big fan of World History and especially loves the Chinese one. So I was inspired to take Mandarin as my third language. Thinking back, it was a really good chance for me to learn and put myself out of my comfort zone. Also, I got the opportunity to have Professor Daniel Youd be my language professor and lifelong mentor. A big thing I remember about my first year was doing the Kemper Scholar program and the AmeriCorps program, where I enjoyed volunteering for 300 hours of community service in a year. Beloit College is really supportive by offering plenty of resources and opportunities for students to explore and follow our paths. In my case, I was given the opportunity to continue diving into my interests.

 

Year 2

Given your interest in IR and Economics, when did you declare your intended major?

Coming to sophomore year, I was dedicated to deepening my knowledge in IR and Economics & Management (now changes to Economics). That was also when I declared my double major.

Could you share with us some of your involvements in your sophomore year that you think have impacted your current career pathway?

In the summer after my sophomore year, I had my first formal internship with the Rogers Park Business Alliance in Chicago through the Kemper Scholar program. I also studied Economic Development during that summer, so having an internship in a company focusing on business, community, and economic development really helped me connect classroom learning to real-life practices. The internship experience also sparked my interest in working in the Economics-related field.

 

Year 3

What opportunities did you take advantage of during your time at Beloit College?

The study abroad opportunity. I took a semester abroad in China in my junior year to work on Mandarin. Also, I really wanted to have business-related working experience at that time, so through the organization Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, I landed an internship with IBM as a Summer Finance Intern.

Could you share with us your internship experience at IBM? Did it help you figure out your career path?

After the internship, I was intrigued by the quantitative nature of finance. Still, I also realized that I wanted to work in a position to be more interactive with clients, such as helping them tackle their existing problems and come up with solutions. I think that was the moment when I decided to go down the consulting career pathway. And actually, this internship also led me to my post-graduation job offer in New York City.

 

Year 4

How do you think your time and education at Beloit College have prepared you for your post-graduation life?
Beloit Colle has shaped my career interest, and especially the Economics department has allowed me to understand the theoretical underpinning of the market and guided me to approach experimental learning. They motivated me to start thinking about my career early, and I wanted to gain hands-on experience since freshman year. They also pushed me to try different things, such as volunteering for an NGO in India or trying out Business and Finance (I’m really glad that I tried that out). The combination of curiosity about every subject’s background and the willingness to take on challenges that Beloit has instilled in me helped pave the way to my Finance and Consulting career pathway. In terms of preparing for working in a professional business setting, I think there was no way I could have learned everything I needed to know as an undergraduate to be prepared for a desk job at first. Everything I need goes back to what I have gained at Beloit College, which is thinking critically and analytically, taking the initiative, and transferring classroom knowledge into practical experience. I’m also thankful to receive enormous support from professors. For all of my internships, whenever I needed recommendations, my Economics advisors and mentors were super willing to write a letter or call in to recommend me for a position.

 

After Beloit

What paths did you take after graduating from Beloit College to your current position?
After graduating from Beloit College, I accepted the offer from IBM as a Consultant. Then, I moved to Ernst & Young, working in the same consulting direction as the Senior Consultant. At that time, after 5 years of consulting for financial services clients, I really wanted to improve and widen my knowledge further with a master’s degree. I returned to school to earn my MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (as a Forté Foundation and Toigo Scholar) and my MPP in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Currently, I’m working as the Investment Banking Associate at JPMorgan Chase & Co after having 2 summer internships there. My current role focuses on evaluating various components of equity and debt offerings and M&A activity.

What one piece of advice would you give to current students?
Beloit College always offers many amazing opportunities for you to get a well-rounded experience while attending there. Try everything. Dabble things that you might find interesting, even though they might not directly align with whatever you want to do in the long term for a career. Also, do not be afraid to reach out to people on campus. They are super welcoming and super willing to help out. Make sure that you take full advantage of college resources, especially professors’ help in writing letters of recommendation, endorsement, or making faculty connections.

My Le ’25
December 27, 2022

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