Erin Whalley majored in psychology at Boston College, but chose a career in banking after she had some great business internship experiences. So when she began her analyst job with Citigroup, Erin’s plan was just to have a very positive attitude.
The great thing about being a new employee is that it’s a completely clean slate. “You have every opportunity to prove that you’re responsible and reliable,” Erin says.
She found that if you are open to the experience and have a willingness to learn, people will take an interest in you. “A lot of people took me under their wings and taught me a lot,” she says.
The transition from student to financial analyst is such a big one, Erin challenged herself to not be intimidated and to ask a lot of questions. “When you’re in school, you study, you learn the answers and you take the test. But when you’re working, there are all sorts of dynamic situations that come up, and if you need more help or don’t understand something, you really need to ask every question that you have. I have learned there really are no stupid questions.”
The new analyst took advantage of both her formal mentor and many informal mentors, getting feedback and answers as she made her way through Citi’s training program and afterward. “Even if I’d had a degree in business, I would have gotten everything I could out of the training program,” she says. “So much of what you need to know—from quantitative skills to conducting client meetings—you learn once you’re at the company.”
She also tried to meet as many people as she possibly could. “When I first started, there were mixers; the managers would come meet with us and give presentations about their areas of the bank. Citi encouraged all of us new hires to get out and meet people through these events, but it was up to us to form and maintain those relationships.”
Knowing people all over the bank opened doors to future opportunities, and now enables her to get to answers more quickly. “When people know you and can see that you really want to learn, they want you to be on their team,” she says.
Finally, as a new college graduate at 22, Erin knew she looked very young, so she made sure to present herself as a professional all the time. “You’ve got to have a professional attitude, dress appropriately, carry yourself well and communicate well,” she says. Making the right impression from the very beginning can go a long way. “I really want to continue my career here, so every impression counts—from the very first one to the most recent encounter.