Like many BHP students, Suchi Sundaram came into BHP knowing exactly what she wanted to do after graduation. She wrote her admissions essay about her aspirations, which included eventually serving as the Secretary of State. Suchi, who is now a senior studying BHP and MPA in the program, even secured an internship the summer after her freshman year with a congresswoman in Washington, DC. Out of around 200 interns on the Hill that summer, Suchi was one of only three freshmen interns. She was immensely grateful for the experience and felt it was life-changing for her; not only was she able to learn key communication and interpersonal skills, but she also realized she did not want to pursue a public sector role upon graduation.
“I realized I wanted to do something involving more technical or quantitative skills, ideally utilizing those skills to help others,” said Suchi. That fall, she took the BHP Sophomore Lyceum course and had the opportunity to hear Amy Bell speak. Amy is a BHP alumnae working for JPMorgan as Executive Director of Sustainable Finance. Her work connected with Suchi, and it clicked for her that she could work in impact investing and satisfy her desire to do quantitative work while helping others.
She set up an informational interview with Amy over the phone, and Amy graciously spent nearly an hour providing key insights into her career path. She helped Suchi discern what path she should take to work in a position similar to hers. She suggested Suchi start her career in investment banking and then work her way into impact investing. After the call, Suchi pursued and secured an internship with JPMorgan in investment banking. Amy even met with Suchi again prior to her interview to give her advice about the recruiting process.
Suchi’s extracurricular experiences at UT have also helped to prepare her for the future. She got involved in Global Brigades her sophomore year and went with the group to Ghana, where she was able to help spread financial awareness and create sustainable business plans to empower local communities. She has also served as president for the Indian Cultural Association, spearheading a grass-roots recruitment initiative as well as a national Bollywood Dance Competition called Jhalak. “These experiences have been invaluable to me; they taught me how to lead. As a leader, you really have to be able to listen to everyone and unify a vision,” she said of her prior leadership experiences.
For the past year, Suchi has been focused on developing a social finance fund at UT. Similar funds exist at peer institutions, and she has been researching those models to try to determine which model would work best for UT. She continues to research this area with a McCombs Business, Government, and Society professor. Last year, she presented her findings to the Dean of McCombs and is currently talking to social enterprise organizations on campus to increase support for the cause.
“I was very confused for my first two years, but now I feel like I have really figured out my path,” she said. Suchi’s path is not uncommon for BHP students. Many come into the program feeling pretty certain about their path, only to determine that they want to pursue something else. Through internships, being active in organizations, advising appointments, and guidance from alumni of the program, students are able to find their path and set themselves up for success.