When Melanie Manko landed an interview for a software development internship at BlackRock, she didn’t understand why all her finance major friends were so excited for her.
Melanie was a math and computer science major and she was always interested in finance, but she didn’t know the first thing about asset management. Some quick Googling made her realize just how big an opportunity building a tech career at a top global investment firm would be. BlackRock manages more assets than any other global firm.
As she went through the interview process, she started to see herself working there more and more. Each team member she met with sold her on the role, and helped her see herself at the company.
Fast-forward to day one of her internship, and Melanie’s excitement was revving up. That said, she did harbor some worries about not having a formal finance background.
Eventually, that unease melted away, and she quickly fell in love with the company’s tight-knit tech community and managers who made it easy for her to learn everything she needed to know to succeed at her job—even without a formal finance background. She also enhanced her software-development skills at the same time, which was a great learning opportunity.
That summer internship helped Melanie realize that BlackRock was a great fit for her career goals—so much so that she accepted an offer to join the company’s technology rotational program after graduation. The two-year program lets recent grads take a new team for a spin every six months.
Melanie says people are often surprised she can work on a front-end web app for six months and then switch to back-end cloud services. But for her, it’s second nature.
At a place like BlackRock, everyone touches technology in some way, so Melanie and her co-workers have a chance to make a major impact. “I work on Aladdin, which is the core platform that BlackRock runs on,” says Melanie. “We’re constantly working to make it better. It really feels like we’re on the leading edge of financial tech.”
BlackRock also gives its employees a lot of opportunities to be creative. For example, they host an annual company-wide Hackathon. One of the groups Melanie worked in actually started off as a Hackathon idea. It was so successful it eventually became its own group at BlackRock.
“As a tech person, I feel like I’m part of a technology culture,” she says. “I never feel like I’m being held back in what I can do because I’m at a finance company.”
Apart from advancing her technical skills, Melanie has also put her energy behind another important initiative: she’s helping to make BlackRock an even more enticing place for women in tech and finance.
Melanie helped launch an internal Women in Tech group to give employees a forum for open conversations, mentorship opportunities, networking, and recruiting new team members. She and her co-workers have also partnered with Girls Who Code, helping high school students pursue their own tech career dreams.
Melanie credits much of her success at BlackRock to her mentors. She sees their guidance as instrumental to her career, and she plans on cultivating that sense of community and encouragement in the future.
“Being here motivates me to work hard to become a leader and a mentor,” she says. “I want to take that path so new interns and analysts can see more women in tech positions.”
Have your sights set on a similar career path? Melanie offered this advice for women who want to break into fields like tech and finance:
1. Learn from everyone around you. “Working side-by-side with people who have years of experience gave me confidence,” says Melanie. “Once I started contributing to the team and receiving feedback on our work together, I really could see my career taking shape.”
2; Stick with it. “When I first started, I didn’t have much confidence,” she says. “Three months in, after working with my manager for a while and completing my first rotation, it all started to click. When things seem overwhelming at work, know that you WILL get to that point.”
3. Don’t be afraid of failure. When starting your career, it’s all about trying new things. Rather than focusing on the success and failures of your role, find what you are passionate about.
Ready to start your career at BlackRock? They’re hiring on WayUp now!
BlackRock was founded in 1988 by eight people in a single room in New York City, who believed they could build a better asset management firm. Fast-forward almost 30 years later, BlackRock is still founder-led, despite having grown to 13,000+ employees and becoming the largest asset manager in the world.