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A Ross MBA Student’s Unexpected Journey: From Teacher in the Rural South to Investment Banker

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Vaish Shastry came to the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business from the Mississippi Delta, where she taught middle school children. She came to business school thinking that she would return to the nonprofit world upon graduation. Instead, she’ll be working in the Consumer and Retail Group at global investment banking and asset management firm William Blair. Talk about a change in plans.

In a recent blog post, Shastry explained how within just a few days at Ross she found her mind blown and her curiosity piqued by the world of finance. Read on to find out how Ross classmates, alumni, and Career Development Office coaches helped make an improbable shift her new reality. Our thanks to Shastry and to Ross for allowing us to share her experience with the Clear Admit audience.

The following post has been republished in its entirety from its original source, the Ross “Student Voices Blog.”

An Unexpected Journey: From Teacher in the Rural South to Investment Banker

By Vaish Shastry, MBA ‘18

Huddled in the bathroom, I had two of my closest friends at Ross zipping me into my suit dress, adjusting my hair, and encouraging me for my very first networking event with an investment banking firm.

Less than three months earlier, I was wearing yoga pants to work and driving a bus full of middle school children through the Mississippi Delta.

How and why did I go from a teacher in the rural south to an investment banker? Great question, glad you asked.

I arrived at Ross fully believing that I would continue my work in nonprofits. I love working with kids and being mission-driven. I love being underpaid. But on the second day of orientation (part of what we call Career Action Days), I went to a panel featuring Ross alumni in finance and my mind was blown.

The number of words that I did not understand was alarming, the level of discourse was amazing, and I found the people on the panel inspiring. I came to Ross—and I wrote this in my essays — to sharpen my business acumen and build a foundation of skills. It was day two and I was in shock with how little I truly knew about the business world, how much I had to learn, and how a career with impact can be expressed in so many ways I hadn’t conceived.

And so, I learned.

I met with MBA2s who talked to me about their internship experience; I called alumni and asked about their careers and why they chose banking; I met with our Career Development Office coaches to see if this path was even feasible; and least surprisingly, I went to the mall and I bought a suit.

I joined the Finance Club and an investment banking FACT group (a group of peers who meet regularly to discuss industry-specific recruiting tips, tricks, and topics). And I kept learning.

The first few corporate presentations were daunting. I fumbled over words I had never even seen (saying EBITDA was a struggle), and because we had so many firms coming to campus, I had to buy another suit.

Any time that I was drowning in self-doubt, I turned to an investment banking VP and Ross alum who helped me tailor my resume and prepare technicals. He gave me sage advice at every turn—even into my internship this summer. The minute someone found out I was interested in banking the conversation turned to “have you talked to this person? Let me connect you” and I found myself talking to Ross students, alumni, and faculty at every turn who were ready and willing to help me make this shift a reality.

Without a doubt, I could not have successfully landed an investment banking job at any other business school.

The career services at Ross are incredible for supporting career switchers, but it’s more than that. The level of support I received from the Ross network—and let’s be real, of investment bankers—was surprising and instrumental in my journey.

My paradigm of a “career with impact” has changed drastically since coming to Ross, but as I prepare to start at William Blair in the Consumer & Retail group, I can reflect and know with confidence that this wild ride was made possible by how much I have learned here, among these incredible people.