Mentor Spotlight: Julian & Pauline

Julian Metcalf

Company: Moody’s Investor Service

Position: Associate Analyst – Public Finance Group, California Team

College/University you attended: MPA Wagner/NYU, BA SFSU

Major: Masters of Public Administration, BA of Geography

How did you find your job? Networking with alumni from Wagner. I identified a group of alumni working in the areas that interested me most. I asked them for informational interviews. During the calls I learned everything I could about their roles, their organizations and the challenges they face. One alumnus turned out to be the managing director of public finance at Moody’s. Her work seemed intellectually stimulating and very challenging. Working in public finances as an analyst seemed like a rare opportunity to learn about hundreds of government organizations and immerse myself in regional economics. After our phone call I did even more research, and followed up with thank you email and expressed my interest in working for Moody’s if an opening arose. I found even more alumni who worked at Moody’s at continued the routine of asking for informational interviews. Within weeks I had spoken with several people across the organization. Eventually it paid off, and two months later I was driving across the country to start at an opening in the San Francisco office.

What’s the weirdest job you ever had? Starting a business at age 17.

What’s the best career advice you ever received? Remain open to new challenges and opportunities without losing sight of your big picture goals. It’s easier said than done, but both flexibility and commitment are critical for advancement and fulfillment.

What is the hardest interview question you’ve ever been asked? How did you answer
it? “Are you willing to do X.” The “X” being some unexpected and in my opinion negative component of the job. The problem was that besides this new twist I really wanted the job and in the middle of an interview when you’ve been unemployed for months it is easy to be very agreeable. However, I consider a job interview a two-way interview, where I am interviewing them as much as being interviewed. After a moment of honest reflection I said “no.” It was
difficult to essentially nullify my chances of the job mid-interview, but it was important for me to set limits for myself and communicate them. I wouldn’t recommend everyone react the same way, it is very situational. In many circumstances it is best to provide an affirmative answer, and spend time after the interview reflecting on your response.

What part of your college experience prepared you most for the real world? Writing essays and presenting in class. In every job I’ve ever had communication has been critical in some. Even in the most technical roles it is critical to convey abstract ideas through writing or presenting to your manager or groups. All of the essays and class presentation on even the most
random topics prepared me to better articulate my ideas and get my point across.

If you could tell your college self one thing, what would it be? Relax, stop worrying about what you’ll be when you grow up because there are plenty of jobs in the world and it just takes time to find them.

Pauline Ma

Company: Johnson & Johnson

Position: IT Analyst

College/University you attended: Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Major: Media, Culture, and Communication

How did you find your job? I completed a 6-month internship with J&J before my senior year and heard about the rotational IT Leadership Development Program which I am currently in the process of completing. The support of my manager and the network I had built within J&J definitely didn’t hurt!

What’s the weirdest job you ever had? Selling Cutco knives. I’d say it’s pretty weird when someone asks you what your job is and you respond with “I sell knives…”

What’s the best career advice you ever received? These words from Denice Torres (President of McNeil Consumer Healthcare) really resonate with me: “With your career, you have to say what you want – but make sure you want what you’re saying.”

What is the hardest interview question you’ve ever been asked? How did you answer it? “Tell me a time you made a mistake or came across a big challenge – and what you did to overcome it; how did you remediate the situation?” I think this is one of the hardest questions to answer because as human beings we just don’t like admitting when we’re wrong, and telling others about our mistakes is not an easy thing to do either! I addressed this question by
discussing the importance of humility and transparency in both professional and personal life, along with the consequence of owning the decisions I made and learning from them. I used my J&J internship and experience as President of an on-campus club as illustrative examples.

What part of your college experience prepared you most for the real world? Each and every one of my (8!) internships prepared me in different ways. Fundamentally, 3 things:

1. I got to experience “office life” in a variety of environments – large corporations vs. boutique firms, managing my career development completely on my own vs. being a part of a formal
internship program, etc.

2. I’m thankful that I was never in a position where expectations were for me to simply get coffee, answer phones, and make photocopies. Instead, I was given the opportunity to learn by being hands-on: creating press materials and writing releases, interacting with editors and bloggers, and more – tasks that my managers themselves were doing. I was lucky throughout the various internships that my managers weren’t micro-managers; they gave me the space to discover what parts of the business I liked (or not) and gave me the room to come up with solutions on my own when possible.

3. I learned early on how to navigate the office through building relationships, networking effectively, and communicating clearly to a diverse group of professionals from various functions and industries.

If you could tell your college self one thing, what would it be? I would quote Oprah Winfrey… “You can have it all. Just not all at once.”

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