MBS senior Sierra Santomango ’17 was able to get a leg up on a prospective career in finance thanks to an investment research internship at Guidance Point Retirement Services in Bangor.
During her year-long internship which began in March 2015 when she was a first-year MBS student, Santomango had a number of duties including monitoring funds in retirement plans, performing market research and analysis, and updating quarterly balances for clients. She was frequently involved in projects including one that required her to create a master scoring system to help rank each investment fund.
“The internship was a great opportunity for me to get exposed to areas of study that intrigue me and to help me prepare for my career,” says Santomango, a finance major from Greene, Maine, who plans to earn an MBA at the Maine Business School and pursue a career as CFO of a Fortune 500 company.
She was the youngest intern to be hired at Guidance Point, a registered investment advisory firm where chief investment officer Ben Smith (CFA) and MBS alumnus (’03, ’04 MBA), regularly hires MBS students as interns to mentor them and provide real world job experience.
“Ben helped shape me into the young professional I am today,” says Santomango who will graduate before she is 21.
“He taught me a lot about the business world and the experiences that helped him become a successful business professional. Thanks to him, I had the real life experience with much of the material that I’m learning now. My internship taught me that in any business, particularly the finance industry, you have to know how to market your service to stand out and target the right customers.”
An MBS student ambassador and vice president of the UMaine chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars where she finds opportunities for members to help the greater Orono community, Santomango serves as sector head in SPIFFY (Student Portfolio Investment Fund), providing weekly reports on the portfolio.
Some of her most memorable experiences at MBS include a class project based on the TV show “Shark Tank” where students had to come up with a new company and product, create a business plan and pitch the idea to a panel of professors.
“I learned more about the basics of business than I ever thought I would,” Santomango says.
Another highlight was attending the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education (GAME) Forum in New York with other SPIFFY members.
“I learned about the monetary and fiscal policies that influence the power and wealth structures associated with a global economy,” she says. “We met with successful people in the world of finance and discussed the role that strategy and allocation of resources play in creating long-term stability in mission-driven companies.”
MBS has been a good fit.
“The DPC Business Building is welcoming and the classes are the perfect size — large enough so you can interact with your peers, but small enough so that the professors get to know you on a first name basis.”
Faculty encourage students “to explore life outside our comfort zone,” Santomango says. “They know there are some things that you can’t learn in a classroom and that outside interests build character — something that is just as important as a good GPA when it comes to standing out in a pool of job applicants.”
Santomango has found faculty to be attentive and accessible, always willing to sit down and discuss coursework and provide career-building advice.
Finance professor Richard Borgman, finance and accounting lecturer Matt Skaves and lecturer in management Scott Spolan, all have had a “tremendous impact” on her education, she says.
“Each has been a mentor, helping me excel in the classroom and providing career advice and insight based on their own professional experiences.”