Finance and the Humanities: A Match Made at Scripps
by Michael Hardy
For young women seeking a career in finance, some might not have perceived Scripps College as the obvious choice. Evidently, they would be wrong.
Scripps alumnae say they have forged successful financial careers because of—not despite— their grounding in the humanities. Allison Wysocki ’99, managing director of technology investment banking at J.P. Morgan, in San Francisco, spends part of her time recruiting recent graduates to work at her firm. Contrary to conventional wisdom, she finds that liberal arts majors are often better prepared for careers in investment banking than students who majored in finance or business.
“Having a humanities background is such an important thing in finance,” Wysocki says. “I find that a lot of students with traditional finance backgrounds just don’t have the ability to think critically.”
At Scripps, Wysocki majored in politics and international relations, in addition to taking the standard Core curriculum. She got involved in the Student Investment Fund her sophomore year, and by her senior year she was the fund’s president. Today, working as an investment banker in the high-tech sector, she values the skills she gained at the SIF.
“Prior to the SIF, I didn’t have any investment experience,” she says. “Today, I’m using many of the same skills I learned there. I’m constantly evaluating corporate business models and financial profiles, whether I am taking a company public, or helping a company acquire another company.”
Wysocki got another peek into the business world when she served as a recent alumna member of the Scripps Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2000. That experience helped prepare her for her current position on the board of the Larkin Street Youth Services, a nonprofit that serves homeless and at-risk youth in San Francisco. Wysocki decided to get involved with the charity after observing the many homeless teenagers camped out in Golden Gate Park near her home.
“When I heard Larkin Street has the largest number of shelter beds for youths in the city and three out of four young people who complete Larkin Street’s comprehensive programs successfully exit street life, I thought serving on its board would be a way to give back to my community,” she says.
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