When Allison Gates graduated from college, she had a degree in music and planned to be a music teacher. So she started working at a learning center, where her time was divided between teaching and administration.
“I took the job in order to get teaching experience, but I found myself drawn to the financial aspect of the business,” she explains. “I decided to switch gears and pursue a career in business, so I found a job as the client services manager at a boutique investment advisory firm.”
Gates quickly moved up in the company, taking on a research and trading role within just a few months. Four years later, it was time to reevaluate her career trajectory.
“I liked the analytical skills I was using as a trader, but I didn’t enjoy the ups and downs of the market,” she says. “I wanted to move into finance and budgeting, but I knew that with just four years of investment experience and a music degree, I needed an MBA to take the next step.”
When Gates started looking at business schools, Boston College quickly rose to the top of her list. “BC is well known for its program in corporate finance, which is exactly what I was interested in,” she says. “The program’s reputation is so strong that a lot of big companies come here to recruit candidates for corporate finance positions.”
Once she entered the Full-Time MBA program, Gates made the most of the Carroll School’s corporate connections. During her first year, for example, she landed a summer internship with Ocean Spray Cranberries after an on-campus interview arranged through Career Strategies.
“The internship was in financial planning and analysis, which was exactly what I was interested in,” she notes. “I reported to a very senior person, so I attended high-level meetings and watched as decisions were made. It was a great learning experience.”
Gates’s internship with Ocean Spray led to a full-time job offer from the company. But that wasn’t the only job offer she received. An on-campus interview with Staples led to a second interview and then an offer, and a diversity luncheon she attended through Career Strategies led to an opportunity with Exxon Mobil.
“I was particularly interested in Exxon, but the company was only hiring interns when I first met with the recruiters,” she says. “So I started developing connections at Exxon by emailing people at the company and by attending an information session. Eventually I moved through the interview process, and received a job offer in Houston.”
Gates attributes her success in the job market in large part to the support she found through the Carroll School’s Career Strategies office.
“I worked closely with a career counselor who helped me focus my ideas, identify my skills, and connect my qualities to what the company needed,” she says. “I also did a lot of mock interviews online. By the time I did my first interview at Exxon, I was well prepared to articulate my background and skills, and to respond thoughtfully to questions.”