When Aine Ford ’22 arrived at Gettysburg College, she wasn't sure which major to declare, but was more than ready to explore the various fields of study available to her thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of its liberal arts and sciences education. As she learned more, she felt drawn to the Management Department, and after engaging in her classes and internships, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the finance industry.
“I always knew I wanted to go into business,” she said. “I grew up with family who were in the business world. My dad started his own company and my grandmother was a high-power executive. My mom is a teacher and lifelong learner, and she encouraged me to seek out opportunities that would make me feel challenged and supported. I was around people who were inspiring in that way, [and made me realize,] ‘A woman can do that.’”
Four years later, her steadfast dedication to the world of business remains unchanged, but the possibilities within Gettysburg’s new major of Business, Organizations, and Management have exceeded Ford’s expectations.
Pursuing a liberal arts and sciences business degree
Ford will graduate as one of the inaugural Business, Organizations, and Management majors at Gettysburg College, a major that was unveiled in 2019. This course of study allows students the option to dive deeper into what Ford describes as the “quantitative” aspects of business.
“With this major, you have to take classes like accounting, finance, and marketing. For me, that was a bit more valuable in terms of the direction I wanted to go industry-wise,” she said. “I wanted to be able to enter in the professional world on level footing with those who have had financial education.”
Ford demonstrated her commitment to starting a career in finance by landing internships every summer of college, studying abroad in Berlin, and earning multiple job offers at leading companies prior to graduating. She balanced it all with perseverance, grit, and embracing the distinctive aspects of a business degree grounded in the liberal arts and sciences.
“Aine has been a highly engaged and standout student since she came to Gettysburg,” Management Prof. Heather Odle-Dusseau said. “She has embraced a critical management perspective for analyzing her experiences inside and outside the classroom, preparing her for a successful career.”
For Ford, majoring in business at a liberal arts and sciences institution allowed her to develop unique skills that set her apart when applying to jobs. She minored in economics and peace and justice studies, two fields that elevated her curiosity inside and outside the classroom.
“I wanted to get a broad base, which is why I wanted to get a liberal arts education, and some marketable skills. With statistics and economics coursework, I have a good math base, and then I learned how to communicate, how to write, and how to be a learner.”
From classroom to career
All four years of college, Ford remained committed to bolstering her learning with ample career preparation. She met with the Center for Career Engagement and utilized the Gettysburg Network to help secure an internship every summer of college. She first worked in sales at Dell EMC, then as a financial analyst intern at private equity firm Cordatus Capital, and most recently as a portfolio research and consulting group analyst at the investment management distribution company Naxis Investment Managers.
“Through these internships, it was about figuring out what I like, but a bigger part was figuring out what I don't like,” Ford explained. “I realized I liked the analytical—I loved the investment management part of it and looking at a portfolio. I didn’t love the selling side of it. I like doing the backend stuff.”
These internships helped Ford narrow her job interests to investment management companies. After applying to jobs in the fall of her senior year, she received multiple offers, ultimately landing on the Los Angeles-based investment management firm Payden & Rygel.
“Getting a job is competitive,” she said. “I’ve found that from my experience with internships and even in interviews, the vast majority of the people in the finance industry are excited to build a network. The alumni network has been super helpful in that as well.”
Learning business abroad
Ford also boosted her education by studying abroad in Berlin in the spring of her junior year through the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) program. The borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so when she wasn’t busy studying international business, she made Berlin her home and explored the local landmarks like the Berlin Wall, parks, and the Brandenburg Gate.
“I took classes on international marketing and international finance, which was super cool. I learned all about corporate taxation strategies,” she said. “[Studying abroad] was grounding. It made me register how lucky I was and how much there is still to learn.”
Ford directly applied the valuable lessons from her BOM major and her time abroad to the job application and interview process. The courses in her major included studying the ins and outs of companies—from social responsibility to company culture—and the small class size at Gettysburg encouraged her to remain curious and ask questions.
“Asking questions in an intelligent way—that’s definitely been able to set me apart because there’s a certain skill to asking those critical thinking questions that you wouldn't know unless you’ve practiced it for four years,” she said.
As Ford transitions from the college to the business world, she embraces the lessons learned from the valuable classroom experience and the nurturing environment of a liberal arts and sciences institution.
“The Gettysburg community really [stands] out in particular for being able to foster mutual respect and a love of learning,” she said.
By Phoebe Doscher ’22
Photo courtesy of Aine Ford ’22