Student Spotlight: Andrea Ocanas

Name: Andrea Ocanas

Major: Canfield BHP, Accounting (MPA)

Company: Dell

Position: Government Affairs Intern

Topics of Interest: Education, Social Impact, Entrepreneurship

From budgeting to working on government research to driving women’s empowerment initiatives, Andrea Ocanas had the opportunity to do it all this summer while interning at Dell. 

As a Government Affairs Intern, Andrea was not quite sure what to expect at first. Initially, she spent the majority of her time researching social issues that certain Representatives and Senators stand for. After working with her supervisors to increase her “business oriented” workload, Andrea was able to dive deeper into budgeting and social outreach initiatives. 

“Some of (Dell’s) main goals are focused on enhancing women entrepreneurship and STEM education,” Andrea said. “The government affairs team has worked to implement different programs across the country. The whole Dell team will go to (a city) and get people from that city to participate in social impact projects or events.”

One of the cities Dell is currently working with just so happens to be Las Cruces, New Mexico, which borders El Paso, Andrea’s hometown.

“The (initiative) in El Paso focused on women’s entrepreneurship and Dell hosted a competition and they got a team to brainstorm ideas that would help female entrepreneurs in the area start businesses,” Andrea said. “I got to go to meetings at the Mexican embassy to figure out how we would work with Mexico, New Mexico and then the edge of Texas to get resources towards the project.” 

Andrea said it was nice to work with an area she knew while still interning in Washington, D.C., a place she has always wanted to visit. She said she expected to do quite a bit of government-oriented work and welcomed all the learning opportunities that the internship presented.

“I think one of the main things I took out of the summer was that there’s a lot more to businesses than just accounting and finance,” Andrea said. “A lot of what is happening up there (in DC) really does affect businesses. It’s just harder to see from far away.” 

Despite the distance and familiarity of the program in general, Andrea said Canfield BHP prepared her well for the shift because of the diverse community the program offers. 

“A big thing I learned from being in BHP is just how to talk to different people. Being from El Paso was kind of different because, despite the fact that I’m a minority, I’ve been in the majority my whole life,” Andrea said. “All of my supervisors (in DC) varied on the political spectrum and a bunch of other factors. It was a small, but diverse team. CanfieldBHP taught me a lot about how to interact with different people and helped me stay comfortable going up to DC and being in that internship.” 

Student Spotlight: Vibhav Joopelli

Canfield BHP, Finance

Company: Goldman Sachs

Position: Summer Analyst in Specialty Lending Group

Topics of Interest: Investing, Current Events, Entrepreneurship



Stocks and bonds, loans, assets, and commodities – oh my! Investing in today’s world economy is more complex than ever. This is why it’s important that we have really smart individuals overseeing our wealth. Smart people like fellow Canfield BHPer Vibhav Joopelli.

Over the course of the summer, Vibhav performed his duties as a Summer Analyst in the Specialty Lending Group at Goldman Sachs, a division which sits within the firm’s Special Situations Group (SSG). SSG is a “global, multi-asset class business, specializing in principal investing and lending in all levels of capital structures on a risk-adjusted return basis. SSG lends and invests Goldman’s capital directly to mid-sized companies.” We caught up with Vibhav and talked about his experience at Goldman Sachs this summer.

Tell me about your internship at Goldman Sachs.

The internship at Goldman Sachs was divided into two major parts. One part consisted of three major projects that we worked on over the course of the summer and synthesized a lot of what we had learned. The other part of the internship involved my participation in ongoing live deals. A full deal-team worked on these live deals but I specifically assisted the deal-team with specific aspects of the diligence process. Additionally, I also drafted slides for the Investment Committee memo, conducted financial analysis, and performed any unique research tasks that were needed by the team.

What projects did you work on specifically?

One of the biggest projects I worked on involved drafting up an Investment Committee memo for my final internship project, which was based off of a previous deal the group had closed. I was tasked with performing the qualitative and quantitative analysis for the deal. This included deriving valuation methods to evaluate the business, writing up a company and industry overview, and determining high level investment strengths and risks. Secondly, I worked on a live deal for a restaurant company that was going through a bankruptcy process. These were two of the largest projects that I was involved in. Additionally, I also worked on a deal for a real-estate software technology company and developed a tear-sheet for summarizing an investment into a telecom services provider.

What interested you in this opportunity?

I was originally interested in the internship because I wanted to experience learning how to invest from the perspective of one of the largest players in the industry. I thought the internship would provide me a great opportunity to learn the basics of financial analysis and performing due diligence into potential investment opportunities. I also liked the opportunity to be a part of a large organization that had a significant breadth of resources. During my internship, I was able to utilize some of those resources to learn more about various industries through conversations I was able to have with industry experts available to me in the Goldman Sachs network.

Let’s talk about the challenges you faced while working on your biggest projects and how you overcame those obstacles.

The biggest challenges I had were for example, being thrown into the projects earlier on and not having as much familiarity with how to properly execute tasks and build out the models that we were utilizing. Trying to figure out how to do those on my own was difficult, at first, but I was able to reference past deals that the company had made and use other resources that the company had in the database to build up my knowledge and the skills necessary to complete the project tasks. There is a significant learning curve, at first. Admittedly, a lot of the stuff I did wasn’t 100% correct right off the bat but many of the people at the firm were willing to help and provide guidance on how to properly do some of the things that were necessary for the projects.

What was the company culture like at Goldman Sachs?

The company culture was welcoming and collegial. It was a really small group so you got to know everyone in the group very quickly. Everyone was generally very willing to help out as questions came up or as challenges arose. They understood we were interns. They also knew when to hold our hand versus when to let us figure things out on our own. Sometimes the best way to learn things is to figure them out on your own, rather than having someone walk you through the process step-by-step. There were also a good number of out-of-office activities that the company hosted to help you get to know everyone better.

What resources can students with similar interests and goals utilize to gain an internship like the one you participated in?

I’d highly recommend leveraging on-campus organizations. Within the investing space, there are multiple investment teams and finance organizations that provide mentorship and guidance through upperclassmen and through structured teaching curriculums. The next step, once you’re in those organizations, is to leverage the upperclassmen at McCombs and CBHP specifically, to talk about their experiences. Ask them to walk you through some of the challenges that they faced, how they overcame those, and what steps they took afterward. Additionally, ask them to point you towards helpful online resources.

In a nutshell, get involved in McCombs with different organizations and leverage upperclassmen at McCombs and CBHP. Do the grunt work on your own to talk to alumni and learn about what their experiences were like as well. At the same time, I’d encourage everyone in McCombs to step out of the comfort zone of the business school and get involved in activities and organizations outside of school. Whether they be social / service organizations or fun hobbies, getting involved outside of McCombs provides a unique perspective and can allow you to meet some really cool people.

Student Spotlight: Madison Mohns

Madison's Head-ShotMajors: Marketing, Canfield Business Honors

Company: IBM

Position: Marketing Intern

Topics of Interest: Ethical Design, Artificial Intelligence, Entrepreneurship, Urban Youth Mentorship

Your ability to network in any profession is a key way to enhance your career. It helps to get connected with the right people at the right time. Just as technology is moving fast so are the people behind that revolution. You need to be quick and nimble if you want to catch them. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the rough-and-tumble when you’re hustling to find your next big job or looking for your next career-changing network connection. Sometimes what you need is perspective and time to take a step back to understand where you are in your career to find out where you want to be.

Madison Mohns is a senior at Canfield BHP. We recently caught up with her about two great life events she experienced this summer. She talks to us about her time at IBM as a Marketing Intern working on interesting, data-driven projects and highlights some of her favorite memories she made while studying abroad in Spain.

Tell me a little bit about your internship.

This summer, I worked as an intern in the marketing department at IBM. You enter the program with a formal group of interns from all across the US. Throughout the program, there are roughly six marketing hubs. I had never been in an internship with others who worked on similar projects with me before. I was always either the only marketing intern or the only UX intern.

I really enjoyed being able to collaborate with people that were above me (in terms of their experience and their expertise). Equally, it was great to work alongside different people who could provide a new perspective coming in. Getting the best of both worlds horizontally and vertically from a mentorship standpoint was really cool too.

At the internship, I started off by being assigned to a project team. Each project team had three interns. Various sponsors oversaw the different teams. Specifically, my project involved ongoing work to improve the talent acquisition process for marketers. For me, that meant that I was in charge of the user experience for our new marketing careers microsite. For example, I worked a lot with and other tools to make sure that all the insights that I was coming up with were backed by data.

It was really interesting and exciting to be able to work on a really creative project while also having to back it up with hard skills and diving into the analytics-of-things. It was somewhat of a holistic approach to figuring out how to improve the process, which was a little shaky at the time. Although IBM is a large corporation, we got to start from the ground up and experience things from an entrepreneurial standpoint. This made it feel a little bit more like a startup which was cool to experience with a company like IBM.

What drew you to this opportunity?

I’ve always wanted to go into the tech industry because I find it super interesting. I’m really passionate about artificial intelligence and how it will change in the future. A lot of things surrounding ethics within technology are really interesting to me too. I wanted to get through the door and into that space. I’m not sure if marketing will be my end-all-be-all because I really want to end up in a product management role down the road.

I think it’s a great opportunity to go into a large corporation like IBM, which has many resources available to allow you to spend time with so much talent from across the board. You can expect to find someone within the company that does what you want to do. Having an open space to ask questions from a mentor is really great too. As much as you’d like to be 100 percent ready on your career decision, you still have many unanswered questions. Especially, when you’re at this stage in your career search. That’s why I was drawn to IBM in the first place. It’s such a wide-reaching organization. I had a lot of questions going into it but I felt confident that I would come out of the internship well-equipped with a better idea of where I want to go.

Based on what you experienced, how can students with similar interests get involved in an internship like this?

The good news is that technology is at the forefront of people’s minds at McCombs. We now have several resources for people to get involved. If you want to get a job in tech, you must build your network out. Tech companies are so competitive at this point, and from a business perspective, they’re hiring mostly people with a technical background.

If you don’t have a technical background, you need to upscale in that area. That’s going to take a lot of initiative on your part. Additionally, you’ll need to have an enterprising spirit to move that part of you forward. Because they are mostly recruiting for those technical roles, you really do need to stand out with your business background. Anything you can use to start training that will help to bridge disciplines is really great. That might mean integrating different kinds of coursework into your curriculum or getting involved in organizations that might not necessarily be your first skill set. Be willing to learn, to have a growth mindset and lastly, get to know people by being curious and asking a lot of questions.

Great advice! Moving on to your studies abroad; how did you find yourself in Spain?

Madison in SpainI’ve always been passionate about the Spanish language. I started taking Spanish when I was in high school but I had been working in underserved communities with a mostly Latin population. I picked up on it at an earlier age and that’s what got me started. I didn’t even take Spanish in college. I learned most of my Spanish from what I learned in high school and it just came naturally, which was a gift for me and really exciting.

When I started to pick my study abroad programs in college, I knew I wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country. My options were Latin America or Spain. I’ve never been to Europe before so it was an easy choice to pick Spain. Plus, I thought it would be great to be able to travel and experience Europe while immersing myself in the Spanish culture. I really got that in Madrid and it was a super great experience.

I lived with four native Spanish speakers and three other girls from the US. It was really cool to have a bilingual household. We got to sit around and get to know each other. You find a lot of commonality across people with various backgrounds. It was interesting to experience that in a completely new environment like Madrid, which is such a large city. Each little neighborhood has its own unique flair and character. Walking through the streets, you feel like you’re in a new city every fifteen blocks. I really enjoyed living like a local.

What classes did you take while you were in Spain?

I took two marketing classes, an international business class, and an operations management class at the Comillas Pontifical University – ICADE Business School. I thought it was great that every class was taught with a global perspective. Most students in my class were exchange students but local students attended our class as well.

In Europe, international trade is so prevalent because all of the countries are so small that this kind of trade automatically has to be integrated into how they do business. The knowledge I’ve gained from my CBHP courses and what I’ve learned about how all of these different units work together to create and sell products has been really fascinating. Taking that foundation of knowledge I had and elevating it to have a special perspective on global business has essentially augmented the experience that I was getting here at CBHP.

What advice do you have for somebody that’s juggling too much but wants to be involved in something like this?

Madison in the mountains

I made this a priority. I’m a very, very busy person and do far too many things. I really need to control myself. However, I made a lot of sacrifices to make the time to be able to do this. For recruiting, that meant I had to go hardcore in the fall so that I’d have an offer. This meant that I didn’t have to go recruit when I’m abroad in the spring. It also meant I had to take a lot of courses upfront so that when I went to Spain and didn’t have the number of course offerings there, I was well prepared to make most things count.

You also have to think about it a lot and in advance. If you are a busy body person, which is a lot of people in CBHP, we’re ambitious individuals that really want to capture every opportunity that this university offers us. What I really valued out of going abroad was that you don’t have to be focused on extracurricular activities, you don’t need to be focused on getting that job, and you don’t need to be focused on everything that we’re normally concerned about like going to office hours, running to your extra job, and then doing your internship.

When you go abroad, you get the time to take a break. You get to understand that sometimes business causes a lot more stress than it’s worth. Sometimes inducing emptiness into your life can be scary but by doing that, you get to actually reflect on a wonderful experience. That’s what you get when you go abroad. However, you have to put in the grunt work to actually get to that point. And when you’re finally there, you get to reflect and apply that mentality going forward, which is really nice.

Student Spotlight: Oscar Lopez

Majors: Canfield BHP

Company: Google

Position: Public Policy Fellow for Public Knowledge

Topics of Interest: Tech Policy, Artificial Intelligence, Economics, Copyright Regulations





Technology moves fast. I mean, really fast! Not too long ago, people were taking pictures with hand-held cameras. Instead, we use our phones today. Now we have a crazy amount of technology available right at our fingertips. It’s a scary but awesome idea, isn’t it? From self-driving cars to AI at home, there’s a tech-revolution going on whether we like it or not!

Oscar Lopez is a sophomore and Canfield BHP major. Over the summer he held an internship with the Google Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. The program offers undergraduate, graduate, and law students interested in Internet and technology policy the opportunity to spend the summer contributing to the public dialogue on these issues, and exploring future academic and professional interests. Because Oscar is from my hometown of Laredo, Texas, I listened eagerly as he spoke about his experience at the fellowship and his learnings on how the tech industry has changed and will continue to change moving forward. I also wanted to know how these changes will affect a small town like Laredo.

Tell me about the Google Public Policy Fellowship.

Google’s program gives undergraduates, law students, and others, the chance to work in DC – within a public interest organization – to have a deep dive into tech policies that range from broadband access to privacy. You know? The future of artificial intelligence. Throughout the summer, the rest of the fellows and I worked within our individual organizations. We worked on several things like SEC filings, conducted legal research, and posted blog pieces to reinforce our skills, while also getting real-world experience in public policy. We got to explore what the tech world is like in D.C.

Oscae Lopez poses in front of a Google mural

What piqued your interest in this internship specifically?

From a young age, I knew I was interested in public policy. Largely, out of a want to improve my community. In fact, while I was over there, I found out that Laredo is a city that has the worst access to broadband. My interest in public policy came from my community. My interest in technology came somewhat with my fascination in all of the technological advancements that have happened in the past few years. I knew that I wanted to do something that joined those two interests this summer. The moment I found out about the opportunity, I thought it was the perfect time for me to get involved.

Tell me about what you learned.

I really learned how the world works. How the policy world specifically worked for different organizations. How companies work together with members of Congress and federal agencies to enact change that will improve the country’s access to different technologies. However, I went in with some knowledge. So much of what I focused on was broadband access and copyright policy. Additionally, I worked on some of the implications and biases we come up with in artificial intelligence. These are all things I hadn’t really known a lot about before coming in. For example, I didn’t know what the legal precedent was or what the current laws around these topics were. My job required me to dive deep into bills of law, orders, and acts. It really forced me to learn and helped me gain a deeper understanding of something that I might not have known a lot about before.

How can future students with similar interests get involved in something like this?

I found this opportunity by searching for high-quality opportunities on Google and this came up. As soon as I saw it, I applied. Also, I highly recommend paying attention in BA101! The class was a huge help to me. It helped me enhance my resume so that it looked its best and truly prepared me for my interviews. I felt like I had all the abilities and knowledge necessary to excel. Additionally, I reached out to some people that worked in some of these organizations and asked them to provide an overview of what their work entails so that when it came time for me to interview, I had that knowledge. I also encourage everyone to have informational interviews. Reach out to people that can provide a useful network that you can use to learn more about what it’s actually like working in that field.

If you’re working at an internship in D.C. or just there for fun, Oscar highly recommends eating at Hill Country BBQ. It’s the only BBQ in D.C. that earned his seal of approval. If his taste in BBQ is anything like mine, then I’d be inclined to make the trip too! While you’re there, Oscar explained that everyone should visit the museums, the Capitol, courts, and monuments. He mentioned that even a nice walk through the beautiful neighborhoods would be a good idea.

Visit the Google Public Policy Fellowship site for more information about this opportunity. If you’d like to read more on Oscar’s work, check out his SEC filing here and read his article on how and why textbooks keep getting expensive.

Student Spotlight: Catherine Cheng

Majors: Canfield BHP, Finance, Certificate of Computer Science

Company: Evercore Investment Banking – Manhattan

Position: Summer Investment Banking Analyst – Mergers and Acquisitions

Topics of Interest: Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Venture Capital

Class: Senior, Class of 2020

Catherine Cheng is a rising senior who’s excited for her final year in college. Throughout her first three years at UT, she focused on the University Securities Investment Team (USIT) – a finance organization out of the McCombs School of Business where she is the sitting president. Next year, she plans on starting a new internal USIT division focused on market intelligence where the topics of computer and data science will integrate with the more traditional aspects of finance – an integration that she and her peers at USIT have long asked for. Catherine and her team hope to establish this new division at USIT for the benefit of future generations and enable students of all majors to learn and pursue their interests in quantitative finance and data science.

Additionally, Catherine has been an active member of the Genesis Program – a student alumni effort to help student entrepreneurs raise capital at UT – where she currently serves as Due Diligence Partner. Catherine explains that she’s always been interested in finance and more specifically, venture-capital. “That’s basically what my journey has been like here at McCombs. I’m focusing on finance but more specifically, helping student entrepreneurs. Going into senior year, I’m actually really excited to have slightly fewer classes because it means I’m going to have more time to give back to both the finance and entrepreneurship communities.”

When Catherine made her college decision, she wrote an op-ed piece for the student-run publication “FreshU” titled, ‘Why I Rejected MIT’, and if you haven’t already read it, I encourage you to do so. Catherine discusses her reasons for deciding on Canfield BHP at UT versus the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It’s a wonderfully-refreshing look behind a student’s indecision between two outstanding programs and the process of elimination. I wanted to talk to her about her thoughts behind this piece and more.

I read your article on “FreshU” and thought it was wonderful. Now that your junior year is practically over and you’ve spent three years at UT and Canfield BHP, how do you feel about your decision to come here? What have been your takeaways so far?

This is a question my parents actually ask me a lot because they weren’t the biggest fans of my decision. Of course, I have a deep love for both universities, and I continue to believe both schools are absolutely amazing – that’s why the choice was so difficult for me. At the end of the day, though, my answer has always been that I think coming to UT is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I think the reason why I say that is because I have met a group of incredible people who are passionate about business here and that’s what I came to college to learn more about.

The community aspect has really driven it home for me. Between the team that I found at USIT and Genesis and through the Canfield Business Honors Program, I’ve met so many incredible people who are all doing incredible things that they’re really passionate about. It’s really inspiring and I think that’s the best part about UT. I’ve also had the chance to interact with students studying engineering and computer science through Genesis. Since there are so many students here, it means the opportunities are really endless, and you can go wherever your heart desires. Having the opportunity to be more hands-on with my learning is crucial – whether that’s through extracurriculars or internships.

Austin is also a great place to be because there are so many technical and finance firms around this region. It affords you the opportunity to go work at one of these firms during the semester and start making connections in the community. I’ve met some great mentors along the way simply doing that.

Being honest, though, I haven’t read or thought about the article in a long time. That said, it will still sometimes come up in conversation. I am just happy that others have been inspired to think more about their college decision as a result. I think I made the right decision for me and know my experiences at UT so far reflect that. I found my family in USIT and Genesis, represented McCombs at various national competitions, gave back through research and teaching assistant positions, and have the fortune of pursuing a career I am excited by. The actual reasoning of the article matters less than its more general message – sometimes the best decision isn’t necessarily the easy decision or the one chosen by others.

What did you experience at Discover Canfield BHP that helped push you over the proverbial “edge”?

It was hearing the experiences of current students. I remember a panel event where they featured six current Canfield BHP students from different backgrounds and their experiences at UT. I remember one of the students went to New York Fashion Week as an editor and another went on a cruise for half a year just visiting numerous different countries. It was incredibly refreshing knowing that despite being joined by their interest in business, they were all pursuing different things and driven by different passions and motivations. Canfield BHP has a lot of very diverse people and everyone has their own story, which is something that I have really grown to appreciate.

I also loved being able to meet some of the faculty members. The faculty here is incredibly impressive and I can’t believe we get access to them. Specifically, I remember observing a mock business ethics class ran by Dr. Prentice. Dr. Prentice is incredibly passionate about ethics and business law, areas that I’ve always been interested in, so just hearing him talk about philosophy was really engaging and inspiring.

What aspects of the faculty do you appreciate?

Honestly, there are so many things. For one, they do incredible research. But I think the more important part of it for me is the fact that they care so much about the students. For example, a lot of the Canfield BHP professors will host dinners at their house or come to social events. Professor Konana does that, Dr. Prentice does that, and a lot of other professors do the same thing. I also love that when they’re teaching class, they always try to make it meaningful from an engagement perspective. That’s not to say that they just rely on cold calling people. Instead, they try to inspire discussion about sometimes very controversial or sometimes very tricky subjects to deal with. Everyone’s going to have a different opinion on how a business case should be handled or how an ethics issue should be resolved. Hearing them facilitate these discussions; that’s the reason why I like going to these classes.

On her advice for current students, Catherine encourages students to be open to all opportunities and make sure to evaluate all of them seriously. She explained that any college or major you consider deserves a fair chance to stand on its own. Additionally, she encourages you to “talk to as many people as you can. Whether they’re professors, current students, or alumni, talk to as many people as you can to get their perspective on things and learn from their experiences because often times it’s the people at that particular school that will shape your experience.” Most importantly, she stands by her belief that when it comes to choosing a college or major, it is difficult to make a wrong decision. If you work hard and approach things with enthusiasm and passion, you’ll be a success on whatever path you end up taking.

Catherine will be traveling to New York City over the summer where she’ll be working as a Summer Investment Banking Analyst at Evercore Partners in Manhattan. Interestingly, Catherine is a foodie! She explained that she’s a foodie in the sense that she likes eating food but doesn’t necessarily blog about it. She says, “I’m very excited to go back and just enjoy the city more. Downtime will be limited but I’ll make do.”