April 18, 2017
Magnetar Academy Year:
What are you doing now?
I am a Junior studying journalism—with and intended specialty in strategic communication in public relations—at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
How did your team do at the Team Challenge this year?
I am pretty sure we placed toward the end of the spectrum...
What is most memorable to you about the Challenge?
It was quite a nerve-wracking and exciting experience to be the one behind the computer making the decision for your team. The most memorable part was when I was asked to talk about the program and my experience with it.
What lessons did you learn from your experience at the Challenge?
I learned how to make lasting relationships and how those relationships or events can truly impact your life. I don't think I realized this until much later, when thinking back and reflecting on my experiences. Definitely another valuable lesson was making smart and thought-out financially sound decisions.
How do you use these lessons in your everyday life today?
I have found myself reflecting recently on where I am in my life and what decisions I made that led me here. Sharing my experience in regard to the program led me to do the a more personal short video of my experience for Magnetar Academy's night of financial literacy. Through that I was connected with Melinda McMullen who worked for Magnetar Capital, and who stayed in touch with me. She informed me about an opportunity to intern with Magnetar the summer after my first year in college, for which I applied and got. The internship gave me access to experiences I would have never gotten as a freshman or even in a business class.
Though I am no longer a business major, I have always thought it’s a valuable asset to know a little bit of about a lot of different things, and it helps me stay open to opportunities that can lead me to a different place. I remember I used to be hesitant about public speaking, but Magnetar helped me work on my communication skills, as well as take a chance and do more than the minimum. At school I joined an organization called Business Badgers and Beyond, where I am currently the vice president of communications. I also joined the Badger Herald, which is the nation’s largest independent student-run newspaper. Starting off as a reporter, I was recently promoted to associate editor covering state news in Wisconsin.
My father passed away when I was a child, so I was raised by my mother, and she was terminally ill when I went off to college. From the moment I made a choice on where I was going to school, I had to start making smart choices more adamantly, so I would not land in a more difficult living situation. My mom passed away before I got to finish my first semester in college and I couldn’t really afford to be spending money on trivial stuff. I got a job on campus and I set out to make sound financial choices. I do have older sister who offers to help me financially, but I try to make do with what I get from my job.
Have you had any additional experience with trading or the trading industry since then?
I did intern for Magnetar as a finance intern, but that was as close as I got to the trading industry.
Why is financial literacy important?
Financial literacy is a very important topic that should be addressed at an early age. It’s about learning basic financial principles when you start working that part-time job, so that when you have a career and stable income you will be prepared. For instance, at 18 one becomes eligible to apply for credit cards, and that can be a slippery slope if you don’t understand the implications that come along with it. Awareness of these sorts of situations is what financial literacy is about. It’s important to address this early on because the college experience is also a situation in which people become a little more independent now that they don’t have their parents making every decision for them. To decide if you want to eat out every day of the week, or even decide if you want to waste money on a shopping spree when you know you’re about to start a new semester and books can cost and arm and a leg, so to say. Or even deciding where to go to school based on the more financially sound option, because sometimes making that wrong decision can leave you in debt for more years than you were in school. These decisions that affect our lives need to be made with some sort of knowledge to back them up, since the impact can be long term.
What advice would you give to current high school students, either about the Team Challenge or about financial education in general?
Well first, some of you guys might just see this as an enrichment class you need to take to fill a school requirement, but you should be aware that it is more than that. It will surprise you how uninformed and reckless some people can be with financial decisions. I know you are in high school and college might be your next step, so these concepts seem to be ages away. But important financial decisions are not that far. So, make reference to what you learned when you start that part-time job, when you start to pick where you go to college, whether you should get that credit card. I hope you guys have those same retrospective moments that I have now – and realize what a good decision you made when you took this class.