Banking on Relationships, Investing in the future
by Elisabeth Pfeiffer '15
Tori Sepand ’15 did not expect to land an internship in the financial industry this summer — especially having had no prior experience in the field — but a Scripps connection opened the door for her to explore new opportunities.
Sepand worked as an intern for 10 weeks at City National Bank, working closely with Gwen Thompson Miller ’81, executive vice president and manager of Private Client Services and regional executive for Los Angeles.
“I was helping Gwen with a range of projects that focused on the efficiency of the division as well as preparation for profiling of potential clients to assess their needs. I also did research for her,” says Sepand.
Sepand, an organizational studies major with a focus on women of color, describes her interview with Miller: “It was a little nerve-wracking, but also interesting, because not only did we talk about the internship, but what was going on at Scripps, and it was great to hear about her time at Scripps.”
Sepand had initially heard about the internship opportunity through Sarah Chung ’15, who interned with Miller last summer. She was further encouraged to apply by her manager at INROADS®, a nonprofit organization that connects under-represented students with corporate internships, who knows Miller prefers to hire Scripps students. This would be Sepand’s first time reaching out to a Scripps alumna.
Though it was difficult for Sepand to go into a field not directly related to her major due to her lack of experience, she was able to learn about the industry and gain new skills over the course of the internship.
“Gwen’s really cool,” Sepand says, “and she has a lot going on, but she was always accessible and approachable. I now consider her a mentor because I came with no banking and finance experience, and she was happy to explain things to me.”
During her internship, Sepand was given the opportunity to form a relationship with City National Bank’s multicultural strategy manager, who focuses on business development for diverse communities, as well as with other women of color at the bank.
“It was great to talk to women who are working and have experience with what I’m learning about in the classroom.” This experience enabled Sepand to relate her academic knowledge to her practical work in an interdisciplinary manner.
“I’m pursuing what’s interesting to me in college, and I know I’m able to pick out the transferrable skills. Organizational studies has taught me to see things from a people’s perspective and understanding how a culture can affect a company, and I was able to use these skills both on a visionary, large level, and on a detailed level within the company.”
“There’s so much value to a liberal arts education because you learn how to think, analyze, and write. Those skills are important and valuable in life.”
What are Sepand’s plans after graduation? “I definitely would love to work at City National Bank, and although I don’t know what my career path is yet, I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to see what opportunities are available.”
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