New Graduates Will Soar in High-Flying Worlds of Finance and Technology
Many college students flock to New York each year hoping to line up a dream job in the city’s signature industries of finance and technology after graduation. However, in a highly competitive and often saturated market, landing that job offer is an almost Herculean task. Yet Yeshiva University graduates are entering the workforce with full-time offers in these exciting fields at an impressive and increasing rate—successes students attribute to hard work, determination and the unique education and training they received at YU.
“Stern College for Women prepared me for the exciting and extremely challenging tech field by allowing me to explore,” said Liran Weizman, of Hong Kong, China, one of four YU students who will participate in JP Morgan Chase’s selective Tech Connect program, an initiative that fast-tracks outstanding women to join the company in technology analyst roles.
She was by no means the typical applicant. “I was always a strong communicator and I thought I would go into psychology, but when I discovered Intro to Programming with Professor Alan Broder and Calculus with Professor Michael Dalezman, I felt challenged in a different way,” Weizman said. “If you had asked me my first semester here whether I would end up taking Linear Algebra and Data Structures in my last semester on campus, I would have laughed—but Stern gives you the opportunity to take classes you never thought you would take.”
After auditing a computer science course in her senior year, Weizman decided to spend an additional year earning a minor in the field by taking advanced programming courses and mathematics courses. Dr. Karen Bacon, the Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College, and Dr. Thomas Otway, chair of the mathematical sciences department, helped Weizman tailor her studies to build a well-rounded and thorough skillset. The personal investment faculty exhibited in Weizman’s success made a profound impact on her and spurred her on.
“Professor Broder changed my career path,” said Weizman. “His dedication to his students is felt by everyone. And Professor Dalezman has also shown me that math is just unbelievably awesome and there is so much you can learn and do.” She added, “Stern has just been an exceptional place for me the last four years. Growing up in Hong Kong, Stern became my home and the friends that I have made here will be for life—I will always look at Stern as the place that I grew and challenged myself.”
Her fellow trainee in the Tech Connect program, Jenna Burstein, of West Hartford, Connecticut, was influenced to pursue a career in the technology sector after hearing entrepreneurs describe its importance during the Doris and Dr. Ira Kukin Entrepreneurial and Executive Lecture Series, in which business leaders, entrepreneurs, trailblazers and innovators from diverse business sectors visit Sy Syms School of Business to share their insights with students in intimate settings. Burstein chose both of her majors at Sy Syms—information and decision science and business management—to provide her with a holistic understanding of the industry in addition to a solid grounding in technical skills. Like Weizman, she found the personal attention she received from faculty to be transformative.
“Small class sizes enabled me to build quality relationships with all of my professors, especially Professor Rosenthal and Professor Tufts,” said Burstein. “I have also had a lot of support from Syms Academic Adviser Debra Pine. The individualized support and guidance I received from the Career Center, my professors and academic advisers is something you won’t find at any other university—it’s part of what makes YU a unique, special environment.”
“The accomplishments of the young women who have been accepted into the JP Morgan Chase Tech Connect program reach far beyond their individual career paths,” said Jocelyn Coalter, director of employer relations at the Career Center. “Not only is this program a great step in their careers, but it also demonstrates the quality of education at both Stern and Sy Syms, as well as the growing interest in technology among our students. This accomplishment also has the potential to generate further opportunities for YU students in the future.”
For Yiriel Liss, a finance major from Sharon, Massachusetts, the real-world insight and emphasis on ethics his professors offered played a critical role in shaping his approach to the world of investment banking, which he will join after graduation as an analyst in the corporate services and real estate division at Goldman Sachs.
“[Clinical Assistant] Professor Galit Ben-Joseph worked in a bank for years, just as I hope to do, and saw the lifestyle that it required,” said Liss. “At the same time, she realized the values that spoke to her and that she wanted to live her life by, and she imparted these values to me and my class in our first semester in college: There is time to work and make a living, but there is also a time to spend with family. There is time to toil on the job, but there is also time to toil in learning religious texts. Life is all about balance, and work, Judaism, and family all must play their respective roles.”
According to Associate Dean and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Michael Strauss, that balance is what Sy Syms is all about. “At Syms we provide a high quality business, liberal arts, and Jewish learning experience, with a particular focus on preparing our students for the challenges and opportunities in today’s business environment,” he said. “In addition to traditional business subjects we emphasize what we feel are the cornerstones of our Yeshiva University undergraduate business education –experience-based learning through internships and independent student projects; leading with meaning, through our values-based focus on ethics in business; and close guidance of our students in our entrepreneurship and corporate mentoring programs.”
Liss also appreciated the plethora of extracurricular opportunities he was able to pursue at Syms, including roles as the president of the Sy Syms Business Honors and Entrepreneurship Program and intramural basketball captain, and the built-in hours of Torah study that rounded out his undergraduate experience. “I have immensely enjoyed being part of a yeshiva and learning with a group of guys year after year who I know will be friends for life,” he said. “We spend our mornings together immersed in Judaic texts, our afternoons engrossed in the secular world around us, and our evenings dancing at one another’s weddings, celebrating life’s achievements.”
He also has YU to thank for his recent marriage: “My wife, Leah (Nunberg) Liss, currently attends Stern, and she is the sister of my best friend and former roommate, Naftali Nunberg,” Liss said. “I asked her out at the Seforim Sale, and, as they say, the rest is history.”
Jonathan Herskowitz, a finance major from New York who will join Credit Suisse as an investment banking analyst on their technology communications team after commencement, remembers walking into the Career Center as a sophomore with only a vague idea of what the field was about. “They’re unbelievable,” he said. “The Career Center counselors told me exactly where to look and what to read. I started keeping up with industry news online, reading a lot on my own, and found exactly what I wanted to do pretty early in my college experience, allowing me to gear my classes toward that and pick my major early.”
The caliber of those classes was top-notch. “My corporate finance class with Visiting Assistant Professor of Finance Gabriella Coiculescu was amazing,” said Herskowitz. “When you think about finance as just a bunch of numbers and formulas, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but she really got me thinking outside the box. Now every article I read, I’m always thinking about implications on the global economy as well as specific companies, which I had never really done before.”
Herskowitz found an invaluable mentor in Associate Dean and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Michael Strauss: “I founded my own company on campus, and he was instrumental in helping me get my ideas off the paper, always willing to let me practice for interviews with him or go over what I wanted to do for the summer. With his experience in the business world, he’s been really helpful to me.”
However, he also discovered that by attending a YU school, he had already taken the first step in meeting countless other mentors. “The number one thing is the alumni network, which you can’t get at any other college,” said Herskowitz. “At YU, our alumni know the challenges of making it in different careers as an Orthodox Jew and they want to help out. I always had people I could give a call or reach out to via email when I had a question—I don’t think you could find that anywhere else.”
It was a favor Herskowitz was eager to pay forward. In his junior year, he and fellow students Eyal Greenberg and Eitan Gettenberg established the Investment Banking Society of YU, a faculty-mentored group for driven students that provides rigorous training in everything from the ins and outs of the interview process to a typical day on the job. It also helps current students form relationships with recent alumni working on Wall Street, increasing their access to job opportunities and enabling them to hit the ground running. Of the eight students in the Society this year, six have already received summer offers, which frequently lead to full-time offers.
“Yiriel Liss and Jonathan Herskowitz are shining examples of an even greater trend at YU of students obtaining and succeeding in finance internships,” said Marc Goldman, executive director of the Career Center. “Each year for the past three years, a larger number of students have applied and been accepted to summer analyst programs, and an increasing number have yielded full-time offers from those experiences. In addition to Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, students have been working at companies like Morgan Stanley, Barclays, BNY Mellon, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank.”
While he finds it gratifying that he was able to help other students launch their careers in the field, Herskowitz’s favorite YU memory is still the moment when, en route to meet with Career Center Counselor Laurie Davis, his cellphone rang. “It was the call for my summer offer,” said Herskowitz. “That was really exciting.”