By Kassondra Burtis ’12

Incoming Saint Mary’s junior Frydha Cordova got an indepth look at the world of finance through a national development fellowship program, which took her to both New York and Chicago this summer—and it proved to be a sound investment in her future, one that’s sure to pay high dividends.

The Sophomore Development Fellowship, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co., initially caught Cordova’s attention because of her newfound interest in business. “I thought it would be a great way to get my feet wet,” Cordova said. “I’ve wanted to grow more in my professional skills and thought that this would be a great opportunity to be a part of their team.”

Through the program, JPMorgan Chase offers second-year university students, who self-identify as Black, Hispanic, or Native American, a path to a successful career in financial services. This intensive program develops students’ technical and professional skills, opens up valuable networks, and connects them with professional mentors.

Being accepted into the program was no easy feat; only 78 participants (who must hold a minimum 3.2 GPA) were chosen out of over 550 applicants. To apply, Cordova uploaded her résumé, submitted an essay, then videoed herself answering interview questions.

The program consisted of two three-day conferences, the first in Chicago and the second in New York. Attendees listened to speakers, met with recruiters and other fellows, and also had time for socializing and a community service component. “They gave us tools to build our skills and ourselves as professionals,” Cordova said. “They gave us examples of things to talk about at the conference with the professionals, and we did mock interviews with peers and business professionals. We were supposed to take what we learned at the first conference in Chicago and put it to work at the New York conference.”

Additionally participants worked on email pitching, résumé writing, and overall writing skills.

Cordova was also paired with a mentor in New York, who is available to help answer her questions about the financial services world.  

Alisa Macksey, executive director of First Generation Initiative, presented the opportunity to FGI student Cordova because she knew it would be a valuable professional tool. “It is a great opportunity for any student to get exposure to an industry they may not naturally know a lot about,” Macksey said. “Within the finance industry, there’s also marketing and communications, human resources, and other departments—not just finance. It helps to broaden a student’s understanding that in a specific industry, there really are many jobs avenues.”

Macksey knew that Cordova would benefit from the fellowship because of her success in the classroom, as well as her willingness to try new things. “Frydha is a great academic student and a really hard worker,” Macksey said. “She is involved in many things on campus like student government and student activities committee, and she’s also an admissions ambassador. She is well-respected among her professors and peers.”

Cordova considers the experience invaluable. “It is about building yourself, your résumé, and your network,” she said. “It’s been a challenge but I’ve grown so much.”

Photo caption: Frydha Cordova, middle left, poses with other students from The Sophomore Development Fellowship, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co.


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