How This FinTech Company’s Employee Networks Help Recent Grads Thrive

Mahogany Aminzia
How This FinTech Company’s Employee Networks Help Recent Grads Thrive
Sponsored by, BlackRock

When looking for a company to start to grow your career, it’s essential to take a holistic look at all they have to offer. Do they help with career development? Are there opportunities to connect with other employees? These are just a few of the questions to consider when selecting your dream company. 

One FinTech company that emphasizes the importance of career development and networking is BlackRock. At BlackRock, employees are given plenty of opportunities to network, develop professionally, and celebrate diversity through employee networks. Employee networks are spaces where employees with shared interests and/or backgrounds come together regularly for discussions, volunteer opportunities, and networking. 

To get a deeper understanding of what BlackRock’s employee networks have to offer, we spoke to five early-career Analysts about their experiences. Here’s what they had to say.

What initially drew Jonathan Pizano to BlackRock was the company’s mission to help people experience financial well-being, which is very important to him. 

Jonathan shared with us that his parents immigrated from Mexico in hopes of building a better future for his family. “They sacrificed a lot for me to be here, so it was refreshing to see that a company like BlackRock had a purpose that aligned with my family’s journey for something better,” shared Jonathan. 

In the summer of his Junior year at Washington University in St. Louis, Jonathan participated in BlackRock’s Summer Analyst Program. During his internship, Jonathan got involved with as many employee network events as his capacity would allow. Taking initiative, Jonathan collaborated with a fellow Summer Analyst to plan a networking event for his internship cohort aimed at connecting with the SOMOS Latinx Professionals and Allies Network (SLN) at BlackRock.

After a meaningful summer experience, Jonathan knew that he wanted to return to BlackRock upon graduation. Today Jonathan is a part of the Americas Client Onboarding team, working as a Portfolio Implementations Analyst. In his position, he directs stakeholders during new portfolio launches and changes to existing portfolios to ensure an accurate and efficient delivery for BlackRock’s clients. 

Outside of his role, Jonathan is also a member of SLN, the San Francisco Analyst Impact Committee, Analyst Alley, and the Black Professionals and Allies Network (BPN). Through his involvement in these employee networks, he’s had the opportunity to learn more about the firm and forge strong mentorships across departments. 

With an Economics major and Accounting minor, Jonathan’s advice for students looking for their first job out of college is, “Don’t limit your career opportunities simply because your academic or professional background does not align with what might be perceived as the traditional resume for that role.”

When Rachel Dai first heard about BlackRock, she wasn’t sure she’d be a good fit for the financial services firm.

Thankfully, Rachel still applied and was selected for the Summer Analyst Program in 2018 when she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Now two years into her tenure at BlackRock, Rachel is on the Global Marketing team. She concentrates on brand initiatives that have a global and firm-wide impact and drives innovation by helping the marketing department adopt the latest marketing practices in content, digital, and experiential development. Her team also helps all parts of the BlackRock organization solve marketing strategy problems by interfacing with each region and channel to coordinate, document, synthesize, and communicate firm priorities.

When Rachel isn’t working on her marketing skills, she’s co-leading BlackRock’s New York chapter of Analyst Alley, where she helps create and host social and professional events for Analysts. Rachel is also Global Co-chair of Events and Social Impact for the Asian & Middle Eastern Professionals & Allies Network (AMP), helping organize programming and engagement to ensure that the community feels seen, heard, and valued.

When asked what she likes the most about working at BlackRock, Rachel said, “I appreciate that everyone at BlackRock has a voice – and has their own platform and way to utilize and amplify it … Whether it’s related to work or extracurriculars, everyone’s opinion matters and holds weight, making it a great place to feel acknowledged and valued.”

Her advice for students interested in joining BlackRock is, “Try to understand your personal ‘why,’ BlackRock’s ‘why’ and role in society, and highlight the connection between them.” She explained that doing so will help you create a memorable experience for both yourself and the interviewer.

In college, Kathleen Burkhardt was one of very few women in her engineering track. Now at BlackRock, she connects with many talented women in tech, product management, and finance.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumnus Kathleen first started her journey at BlackRock as an intern in the Summer Analyst Program. After graduating, she returned to BlackRock and started her full-time career as an Analyst, where she rotated through three teams before joining the UX Engineering team.

Since joining the BlackRock community, Kathleen has been an active participant in a wide variety of employee networks, including Analyst Alley, Abilities & Allies Network (ABN), Out & Allies Network (OUT), Women’s Initiative & Allies Network (WIN), and Women in Tech (WIT). Through her involvement in these groups, Kathleen has found support in the WOMYN+ Mentorship Program organized by OUT.

One of the most meaningful events Kathleen has attended through BlackRock’s employee networks was the Lesbians Who Tech New York Summit. At the event, Gloria Steinem, Jen Wong, and many other influential figures in tech and business gave speeches. While attending, Kathleen was able to connect with LGBTQ+ women from BlackRock and other companies. “I am proud of the connections I’ve been able to make and the ability to bring my full self to work through the Out & Allies Network,” said Kathleen. 

Kathleen’s advice to students interested in a career at BlackRock is not to be intimidated if you don’t have a finance or business background and to use your interview to highlight your technical abilities.

Villanova alumnus, Zainab Oyawoye, knew two things her junior year: she wanted to work in finance, and she wanted to do so at a firm that prioritized Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

That’s when she found BlackRock’s Founders Scholarship Program, which aims to bring diverse talent to the firm. After completing the Summer Analyst program, Zainab chose to return to the firm full-time after graduation. Today, Zainab works in iShares, the firm’s Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) business. 

Through BPN and WIN, Zainab has met colleagues from various teams and fields across the firm. She believes that she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet such a wide range of employees, gain perspective about the firm, and receive invaluable career advice without these networks. 

One event that has been particularly impactful for Zainab was BPN’s Black History Month panel of senior Black professionals. She explained that the panelists had an honest dialogue about their different career paths and the hurdles they had to overcome along the way. “This event was especially meaningful to me because I believe representation is extremely important. Hearing the success stories of these senior leaders who look like me was extremely inspiring and motivating,” shared Zainab. 

Her advice for students interested in a career at BlackRock is to stand out in the application process by highlighting ways you have been innovative in the classroom and beyond. She also says to be yourself and let your personality shine through in the interview process.

Just one year into his career at BlackRock, Auston Kennedy has found his footing in his career and surpassed his expectations. 

Auston first heard about BlackRock while studying industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT). After one of his friends introduced him to the company, he participated in a program that exposed GT students to the firm. He left the program impressed and interested in joining BlackRock full-time. 

Now, he’s on BlackRock’s Aladdin Client Services team, which he describes as both a hard-working and supportive environment. In his role, Auston provides application support to users of BlackRock’s proprietary investment management software Aladdin. Thus far, his favorite project on the team has been helping set up $1.8 billion in new funds for a client.

Until now, Auston has participated in BPN and the Green Team Network (GTN), a network for employees interested in sustainability and environmentalism. Auston attributes the firm’s resource groups and professional development to providing him an incredible number of opportunities to strengthen his understanding of finance through online classes and talks given by investment professionals. 

Auston’s advice for students interested in working at BlackRock is to show a desire to learn constantly and be willing to be uncomfortable.

Why you should consider working at BlackRock

At BlackRock, employees are encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work and have access to networks and opportunities that help advance their careers. BlackRock aims to create better financial futures for their clients, and they want to hire people who also believe in this purpose. If you think that BlackRock might be a good fit for you, click here to learn more about their early-career opportunities.