How A Passion For Financial Empowerment Leads to Career Opportunities

Mar 8, 2019 10:00:00 AM
Are you curious about how student banking services are designed? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be behind the scenes of event marketing and planning? Do you want an opportunity to lend your voice to real-life financial events, programs, and products?

The Student Advisory Council (SAC) consults with HUECU on financial education programming, university engagement events, and student banking services. We spoke with Harvard College senior and a member of our inaugural SAC, Jessica Li, about her passion for empowerment through financial education. Though prior experience is not required to serve on SAC, Jessica brought perspectives from internships at Morgan Stanley, Charles Schwab, and Northwestern Mutual. Jessica also managed Harvard Student Agencies and oversaw investments for Smart Woman Securities. She previously had been involved with HUECU as a volunteer on our Scholarship Review Committee.

HUECU: As a Computer Science and Applied Mathematics/Economics student, what about Economics and Financial Services sparked your interest?
Jessica: What I really like about math is there’s no problem that you can’t solve. That’s something you can’t get from a lot of other subject areas. I am impressed by the elegance of how people make math understandable at an elemental level by distilling the noise. Applied math is relevant and increasingly more important to the business aspects of financial services.

HUECU: Have you been personally impacted by financial education?
Jessica: Financial education is something I feel is lacking in a lot of schools. I was forced to learn the basics because my parents are immigrants. We came to U.S. when I was 10 years old. I was the main person in my family who understood financial logistics, like statement reconciliation. It was not a choice. I was responsible for family budgeting and taxes from an early age. Now, when my friends ask why I’m going through my credit card statement, I teach them simple tips, like, fraud is not always large. Most fraudsters charge small amounts to see if you’re paying attention to your account. These things are things people don’t always think about, but I had to learn them from an early age to keep things running in my household. Today I feel more comfortable managing my finances and it helps me teach my friends.

HUECU: What are your favorite personal finance resources?
Jessica: What I’ve found helpful as a user is personal finance content platforms. A wealth of content builds loyalty and trust, and reduces frictions to on-boarding new customers. Personal finance companies such a Nerd Wallet, Real World Playbook, and NextGenVest, founded by Harvard alum Kelly Peeler, are all helpful platforms. I started using Credit Karma as a resource when landlords began asking me for my credit report. These platforms have helped me learn how nuanced financial decisions can have long term impacts.

HUECU: How do you view SAC’s impact on achieving campus-wide financial education?
Jessica: The credit union itself has a wealth of resources, such as presentations, documents, human capital, and the knowledge and expertise needed to create personal finance education in various forms and from different angles. The role of the SAC is customizing it to Harvard. Every university is different. Some approaches will work here and some won’t. The SAC is a channel and an intermediary between the students and the credit union, to get a pulse on what would be helpful and what the gap is between what students know and what they need to know. Secondly, great curriculum is how to get people to engage, come to events, or keep coming back. It’s like a big puzzle. SAC tests different marketing mechanisms, keeps the pulse on how students respond, and measures how to engage them with more than just the foundational subjects.

HUECU: As a HUECU member, you’ve served on our Scholarship Review Committee and as a member of SAC. What has motivated you to continually give back?
Jessica: Financial empowerment through scholarships or education is important. While commercial banks have a reputation for a monetary focus, credit unions are more community focused. The scholarship and Student Advisory Council are different takes on giving back to the community through financial empowerment.

HUECU: What are your next steps after graduation?
Jessica: I’m returning to Morgan Stanley in the Bay Area to their investment banking group, working specifically in the technology sector. Investment banking is challenging but I liked the team I interned with and I love technology. Working with technically enabled solutions is interesting because everything you do for the company is one of their biggest deals. You’re able to be part of a big moment in a company’s life, like going public or going through mergers and acquisitions. I could stay after this 2 year analyst program ends, but I am thinking about working for a start up with a mission that I believe in- maybe biotech or consumer tech. Working in venture capital is also a long term goal. Ultimately, I want to return to China to broaden education opportunities and work in impact investing.

Thank you Jessica, for your leadership on the Student Advisory Council and enthusiasm for financial education! We’re excited to see where you go next. From all of us at HUECU, we wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

Interested in consulting on our Student Advisory Council? Apply to join SAC and advise HUECU in our pursuit of campus-wide financial wellness by consulting on financial education programming, university engagement events, and student banking services, while gaining first-hand experience and exposure to the not-for-profit financial world.

Not a member yet? We invite you to join the movement. Your money will always be accessible, your family becomes eligible for membership, and you can remain a member even when you graduate, move or change employers.

Tags: Community