Trudy Pham '14
Trudy Pham '14

Before Beloit

What made you choose to study abroad in the first place?
The most critical factor that made me consider studying abroad was probably taking a private tutoring class in conversational English. My instructor taught English at a university in my hometown. She was very passionate about teaching students how to converse in English and not just learn the grammar. She saw something in me and encouraged me to take the TOEFL test, which later played a huge role in helping me obtain a government scholarship from Vietnam to attend college in the US.

Why did you choose Beloit as your next destination after high school?
When choosing where to apply, I wanted a small and intimate environment where I will have an opportunity to interact with people and learn about them on a first-name basis. Also, I never lived abroad before, and I knew my English was subpar, so I especially wanted an international school where people understand and value diversity and are willing to listen and accept backgrounds and opinions different from their own. And Beloit College ticked a lot of the boxes of what I was looking for in a college. I also had a very positive experience with the admission office; one person who was particularly helpful was Staci Ambrose, who helped answer a million questions I had about living abroad without any hesitation. She even emailed me a list of things that I do not need to carry to campus. Staci was my first point of contact, who brilliantly showed me that Beloit is a place where people CARE about you. Funnily, she later became a host family for one of my best friends, and she “adopted” me, too, during my years at Beloit. We are still in touch until this day.

Year 1

How do you feel about your first-year experience in college? Was it hard for you, as an international student, to adapt to a new environment that was far away from your family and friends?
In my freshman year, honestly, I was clueless and plan-less. What I remember the most from my freshman year is making a few good friends that I still stay in touch with. Four of them came to my wedding in Vietnam last year as bridesmaids/Groomsmen. I couldn’t ask for a better first year.

What advice would you give to first-year students for them to make the most out of their college experience at Beloit?
To all first-year students: Take as many classes from different disciplines as you possibly can, see what you like and dislike (equally important!), make friends, have some fun. College is only getting harder after the first year.

Year 2

After your freshman year, which you have mentioned as clueless and plan-less, how did Beloit College help you explore your interest in your majors?
In sophomore year, I took Accounting with Professor Warren Palmer. Frankly, I don’t particularly enjoy accounting, but I like the professor, so I declared my major in Economics and asked him to be my advisor. At the same time, a friend suggested I sign up for the Duffy Partnerships program for my junior year. I worked with Professor Carol Wickersham to select what would be most relevant for my interest and ended up getting an offer to intern at Hendricks Commercial Properties in downtown Beloit. The internship with Hendricks was my first time exposed to Investment and Asset Management concepts, which later became my career pathway.

Year 3

How did your time and education at Beloit College help guide you to the career journey you have embarked upon?
Beloit College has ignited my passion in investment management by allowing me to discover my interest in the financial market and providing me with a technical toolkit and a good conceptual foundation to dig deeper through rigorous courses. Some of the courses I took while at Beloit have definitely shaped my career interest, such as Quantitative Methods with Professor Jeff Adams, Personal Finance with Professor Warren Palmer, and Economics of Globalization with Professor Diep Phan. I took the Quantitative Methods course in my junior year, and it was hugely challenging but rewarding. After this class, I got an offer to become his TA for the subsequent 3 semesters. This was the beginning of a life-long mentorship with Jeff; he was truly instrumental to a lot of decisions I made post-Beloit. The Personal Finance course, I think it was one of the most practical courses I have taken at Beloit. It is super useful to understand the basics of everything you do with your finances. It’s never too late to start thinking about savings and managing your money. During my junior year, I joined Belmark to get my classroom learning applied to real-life business problems. The time I had with Belmark was beyond my expectations. Not only did I gain tons of practical experiences, but I also had the opportunity to meet my 2 amazing mentors, Bill Fitzgerald and Andy Davis. Bill was the one who encouraged me to think about a career in finance, starting with taking the CFA exam in my senior year.

Year 4

Throughout your 4-year at Beloit College, what are the most important milestones or achievements (academic, co-curricular, or career-related) you have attained?
The most important milestones for me, in the end, are the people, the connections, the friendships, and the mentorship I have received from Beloit. In my senior year, after passing the CFA Level I, I was confused about what to do next after graduation. And Professor Jeff Adams was the one to help guide me through that period. He said he believed I could get into MIT for a master in finance degree. So I went and applied, and he wrote me a very thoughtful and candid recommendation letter. I never got to read his letter, but somebody at the admission office at MIT later told me that they wanted to meet me in person after reading his recommendations. Sometimes, you just need somebody who believes in you that eventually opens up many more doors in your life.

After Beloit

What path did you take from graduation to where you are now?
I decided to pursue a Master in Finance degree right after Beloit, per countless conversations with Professor Jeff Adams and alumni Bill Fitzgerald and Andy Davis. All of them supported my decision and helped me write very convincing recommendation letters to MIT. After graduate school, I got my first job at NERA as an Economic Analyst through the MIT career office. I used a lot of my knowledge in micro and macroeconomics in this job. I enjoyed a wonderful 6-month stay in New York City, then found out I did not “win the H1B lottery”, so NERA offered to transfer me to their London office. I love London and can’t see myself living elsewhere. I worked at NERA for almost 3 years before landing my dream job at MFS.

What is your current job? Could you walk us through your typical day at work?
I am currently working as an Equity Research for MFS Investment Management. In my role, I look at public equity as a potential investment idea and try to understand the business from the bottom up, using a fundamental approach. My day-to-day involves some excel model work, some talking with company management to understand their leadership thinking and strategy, some participation in industry conferences to understand what the key value drivers are there, and finally, a lot of time reading on my own on whatever sources I can find about the company, be it annual reports, press releases, independent news, sell-side research, or Bloomberg articles. The sky is the limit, really, and every company is unique, so you never stop learning in this job.