2024 Salutatorian - Steven Fernandez

Major: Economics and Business


Steven Fernandez
Steven Fernandez
Major: Economics and Business

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?
I'm currently a graduating senior at the Colin Powell School, majoring in economics with a concentration in finance. I was born in the beautiful Dominican Republic and spent my early years in the rural countryside (i.e., “campo”). In 2007, when I was six, my family and I moved to New York. We settled in the vibrant and diverse neighborhoods of Inwood and Washington Heights. Our years in upper Manhattan have brought about their fair share of challenges, from finding affordable housing to dealing with the high cost of living and residing in a community with limited access to fresh food. Overcoming these experiences has strengthened the bond within my family and instilled in me deep values of responsibility, appreciation for education and opportunities, and pursuit of a good life. These are the driving forces behind my pursuit of a career in finance, as I am inspired to strive for a career that will drive long-term positive impact by changing how corporate leadership makes its decisions while inspiring others in their career paths.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
My passion and purpose behind my studies at CCNY comes from my curiosity for economics. It astonishes me how people behave around monetary and fiscal policy, as money affects everyone. I became intrigued by how the pandemic and recent world events were impacting the world. It allowed me to see how the pandemic affected my family and me both financially and psychologically. Moreover, it has allowed me to witness the importance of monetary management and investing. Many people can end up in unwanted circumstances if they don't analyze their spending carefully. This led me to not only value personal finance more but to also value my education. My goal is to help corporations and business leaders make sound business decisions using data insights.

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
For the spring of 2024, I am currently serving as an operations intern for the constituent services office of Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos, where I’m automating their weekly reporting processes and addressing constituents' concerns. I am also serving as a teacher's assistant in the Department of Economics and Business, where I assist one of the professors in developing workbooks designed to teach financial analytics within the capital markets industry, including topics like portfolio management programming for data analytics. The Colin Powell School has played an instrumental role in shaping my academic journey and career progression, providing me with an array of resources, from advanced finance courses to valuable career prospects, all of which have significantly influenced my professional development. Within the school, I've had the privilege of enrolling in advanced finance courses, including financial modeling, and participating in networking events that facilitate connections with prominent employers like JP Morgan Chase and BNY Mellon. Additionally, I seized an exceptional career opportunity by interning at Bloom Energy, a renewable energy manufacturer based in San Jose, California, where I served as an Accounting intern during the summer of 2023. This hands-on experience has allowed me to apply my academic knowledge in a practical context within the finance industry. Furthermore, this opportunity opened the doors for me, as I went on to become a Santander Fellow, where I met my mentor who is the managing director of treasury sales and is always willing to connect me with others and help me learn about different areas of the bank system. To culminate all of it, I ended up acquiring a summer 2024 internship at BNY Mellon under their Global Finance Leadership program, where I will be exploring my skills through forecasting and reporting for the corporate treasury team. I can confidently state that the extensive resources provided by the Colin Powell School have empowered me to navigate and shape the trajectory of my professional career within the finance sector, and I am very appreciative of it all.

What are your post-graduation plans?
Upon completing my studies at the Colin Powell School, I want to commit myself to continuous learning and professional growth in the realms of finance, technology, and analytics. I hope to harness the skills I've acquired to make a meaningful impact in technical positions such as operations, financial analytics, and business analytics.

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
I consider obtaining the position of a finance teacher's assistant at CCNY a fairly strong achievement during my academic journey. It's not something I anticipated during my time in school. A year ago, I couldn't have imagined being offered such a role or considering the challenge it presented. Nevertheless, I am appreciative of this opportunity because it allows me to delve into a different aspect of the finance industry and develop a valuable skill — teaching my peers. A significant memory that I will never forget is my Bloom Energy internship with the inaugural cohort, take a look at the video link below. Credits to Nymul Islam for putting the video together.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

I would like to offer three pieces of advice to current or future students within the Colin Powell School:

1. Network strategically: Building a strong network is crucial not only for your college experience but also for your future career. Make an effort to get to know your peers, professors, and professionals in your field. Interacting with different and diverse people can enhance your interpersonal skills and help you form lasting and meaningful relationships. Networking can also open doors to career opportunities by connecting you with potential employers or mentors who can give you insights into your career or the company that they work for. They can also act as mentors as you apply for different opportunities. Building these relationships early in your college journey can pay off in the long run, both personally and professionally. As an example, I currently hold many mentors within companies that I aspire to work at where they have offered to do coffee chats and mock interviews with me before the application process. Even more
recently, I've had recruiters from top financial services companies, whom I met at networking events about a year ago, reach back to me referring to full-time roles in their companies. Sometimes you can leave a good impression and receive a referral.

2. Seize Early Opportunities: College is a time for growth and exploration. Don't hesitate to step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of early opportunities. Consider taking on leadership roles in student organizations, pursuing certification courses, joining academic societies, or applying for internships or part-time jobs or externships. These experiences not only enrich your college life but also provide valuable skills and insights that will be beneficial in your future career. Embrace challenges and failures as opportunities to learn and grow, as they will better prepare you for your future endeavors. For instance, practicing interviews or attending networking events for internships early on can make you more competent and skilled when the time comes for crucial job interviews.

3. Get to know yourself: starting college can be a tough experience, and it's perfectly normal not to have a clear career path from the get-go. Take the time to explore your interests, passions, and strengths. College is a unique opportunity to discover what truly excites you and aligns with your values. Don't feel pressured to have everything figured out immediately. Focus on your journey and your needs to excel and never compare your career journeys to others because we aren’t all born to be the same. The important thing is that you're actively working towards finding your path and evolving as an individual. Just like many of your peers and people in the world, you're on a continuous journey of growth and self-realization. Remember that your college experience is a valuable part of that journey, helping you shape your future and contributing to your personal and professional development. Put it this way, your career is your ship and you are the captain, where are we going? and how are you going to prepare yourself and your ship for that trip?

How would you describe CPS in three words?
Diverse; Ambitious; Leadership.

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