Student Voices
Back to Listing

How I Was Able to Navigate the Financial Services Industry and Become a Voice For Women in Finance


Navigating the financial services industry as a woman was initially an entirely foreign concept, but I was able to discover a community full of unique perspectives that provided support and familiarity along the way.

Aashka Patel, BBA ‘24

Reflecting back to the beginning of sophomore year, it was my first time on campus as an out-of-state student, who maybe knew a small handful of other students. I spent my first year taking classes from home, where I had an endless amount of time to plan out what I wanted to work on and what events I would visit right when I came to campus. Attending a professional event like the Och Initiative information session may have not originally made the list, but joining the Och Initiative that first week was exactly what I needed to act on my ambitions.

My Och Initiative Experience 

The Och Initiative is designed to provide additional opportunities and resources for women interested in exploring the endless possibilities of a career within the financial services industry and I became heavily involved my sophomore year. By complementing finance courses offered to BBA students, this initiative allowed me to go beyond textbooks and engage with professionals from unique backgrounds and experiences in areas including investment banking, investment management, corporate finance, and more. I come from a background with minimal exposure to how this industry functioned, so I knew that I wanted to take advantage of these resources, whether that was through fostering meaningful relationships with women leaders during the Fall Och Trek or learning about what professional opportunities aligned the most with my interests. It was an entirely new and rewarding experience as I learned how to enter these professional conversations with confidence, determination, and the support of other students with similar goals. 

Finding My Community Through Girls Who Invest 

Fast forward to a few months later, I was participating in a 4-week educational training portion of Girls Who Invest where 200 other scholars and I took several finance and investing classes and attended professional development events at the University of Pennsylvania. The training culminated in a final capstone presentation, a stock pitch, and graduation ceremony with networking at J.P. Morgan in New York City. As more weeks passed, the project helped me and my peers grow personally and professionally and gave me further confidence going into my Fundamental Equity Analyst internship at Schonfeld, a technology-driven hedge fund, for the rest of the summer. However, surrounding myself with a community of like-minded individuals from exceptional backgrounds came with several emotions, ranging from imposter syndrome to self-doubt. I quickly overcame these initial thoughts when I saw how supportive this vibrant community was and looked at the experience through a different lense. Learning about other students’ stories and values while absorbing everything that I could in our collaborative education sessions empowered me and my peers to thrive together. This program allowed me to make my most meaningful friendships, have an unforgettable internship experience, and grow my independence by working in different states along the way. Through the Och Initiative and GWI, I was able to confidently navigate the financial services industry with a new support system that I will always be connected to and discovered how I can be a part of changing the face of women in investing for future generations. Most importantly, I found a sense of comfort in my identity and learned to celebrate being the minority in my field. Who I am will never hold me back, and I now know the importance my different perspective will bring to the table.