After nine rounds of interviews, 2017 finance grad Kyle Callahan didn’t land the internship he originally interviewed for at New York City’s Credit Suisse, a global investment banking and financial services company. But he got something even better, tailored just for him, and thanks in large part to alumna SoVonna Day-Goins.
Day-Goins, a 1988 marketing graduate and managing director at Credit Suisse, first met Callahan in 2014 through the Ball State Career Center’s Visiting Practitioners Program. The on-campus program links alumni professionals with students for valuable mentoring, connections and career guidance.
“I thought the Visiting Practitioners Program would be a great opportunity to blend some of my previous history with my current job and to get back on campus,” said Day-Goins.
“We all come full circle in our careers and decide that there can be meaningful contributions of our own experiences.”
During her campus visit, she addressed the Finance Society, a student organization led at the time by Callahan. After Day-Goins explained her role at Credit Suisse and offered advice about applying for internships at her firm, Callahan gave her his resume and a cover letter.
“Kyle stood out, as he exuded an enormous amount of professionalism and a positive attitude,” Day-Goins recalled. “He was someone you would want to work with.”
In applying for the Credit Suisse internship that pitted him against Ivy League students and others from more than 200 universities nationwide, Callahan wondered how he would stand out in the crowded field. But Day-Goins recognized his potential and knew his rigorous Miller College of Business training prepared him well.
Although Callahan had held no previous internships, he was able to capitalize on his Ball State experiences to stand out, such as his participation in the “Fed Challenge,” an immersive learning experience offered through the economics department. Advancing to the final round, his team gave a real-world presentation regarding monetary policy before a panel of economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He also traveled to Singapore with a team of five other students to participate in an international case study competition sponsored by Miller College of Business’s Department of Information Systems and Operations Management.
Nervous, but grateful
In his interviews with hiring managers at Credit Suisse in New York, Callahan was nervous, but grateful for Day-Goins’ advice. “SoVonna gave me so much confidence by strengthening my resume and interviewing skills, connecting me with professionals even before I applied, and mentoring me from step one.”
The interviews went well; however, due to restructuring of the finance department’s internship program, Callahan didn’t receive the internship. But Day-Goins and Credit Suisse did not want to lose such a promising candidate, so they capitalized on his potential in a different way: He was interviewed for and offered a new internship through the company’s risk management department. After proving his abilities during his summer internship, Callahan was offered a full-time job at Credit Suisse as a risk analyst.
“I thought about a job in Chicago, but I never expected to end up in New York,” Callahan said. “SoVonna helped me get the first interview and gave me all the resources to succeed through the rest of the process. She helped make this happen.”
Day-Goins and Callahan have since built a lasting friendship. Each month the two grab lunch and catch up on both professional and personal matters. They’ve even brought their families together for evenings out, including a 2018 annual theatre and dance showcase in New York featuring Ball State musical theatre students.
In addition to a friend, Callahan considers Day-Goins a lifelong mentor who is always ready to offer wisdom and support.
“[Day-Goins] is a huge deal at Credit Suisse, and I still get to talk to her about my career aspirations or career issues. She’s always quick to respond and still helps me in any way she can. I couldn’t have asked for a better guide.”
Creating a team
Now, the two have created a team of their own, aiming to recruit more Ball State students at Credit Suisse. They strive to promote the same guidance that helped Callahan break into the industry titan. Callahan and Day-Goins recently helped a Ball State student in the application process, and although she did not get an interview, the student acquired valuable experience networking with two professionals in her field.
“Now we’ve doubled the size of our team from one to two,” Day-Goins said. “We have plans to help current students at Ball State advance their careers. If you are lucky enough to find a young person like Kyle who is motivated and interested, you know their career will soar and that is mutually beneficial and rewarding for all.”
Day-Goins encourages fellow Ball State alumni from a variety of professional backgrounds to consider assisting current students in their career pursuits.
“The opportunity to share experiences and work with the young people to help them achieve their career objectives gives you a greater sense of purpose. This entire process is invaluable and personally gratifying.”
Jim McAtee, director of the Career Center, cited the work of Jill Cooper, CARDINAL CONNECT program director, and Jeff Eads, senior assistant director, “who enable professional connections that enhance lives and best prepare students to achieve their career aspirations.
“The entire Career Center team’s passion and dedication to student success are the forces behind inspiring stories like SoVonna and Kyle’s,” said McAtee.
For more information about the Visiting Practitioners Program and other opportunities linking alumni professionals to talented students, contact the Ball State Career Center.