Interview with Alumni: Fengshan Wang’13 shares her experiences working at Bank of America
“Interview with Alumni” is a new program consisting of a series of interviews conducted by me and Babson CSSA in fall 2020. This program will invite several Asian alumni who are outstanding in their fields and allow them to share their stories in job hunting and various work experiences.
For any students who would like to chat with me about customized career plans for the fall semester please make an appointment at Handshake. This semester, I am open for appointment from Monday to Friday 9am -4pm EDT and every Wednesday 7pm-10pm EDT.
- Business Support Manager, 2019- present
- Assistant VP; Commercial Associate (Sales Strategy Planning); 2015-Present
- Assistant VP; Learning Consultant; 2019-2020
- Officer, Financial Management Associate Program (FMAP) – GWIM, US Trust Controller; 2014-2015
- Officer, Financial Management Associate Program (FMAP) – GBAM Mortgage Price Valuation Group; 2013-2014
- Intern, Financial Management Associate Program – Global Wealth and Retirement Solutions FP&A; 2012 Summer
Q: How did you find out that private banking was something you really want to do?
A: I went to some of the career sessions held on campus and also used resources from alumni and Hoffman Family Undergraduate Center for Career Development (CCD) while I was on campus. I found out that private banking has a lot of different groups that allow you to explore your interests. I did not have a lot of previous experience in banking.
Some alumni I talked to suggested that I could start with private banking. Since I joined the firm, I changed a few different positions within Bank of America. Sometimes it might be a different experience between what you learned at school and what you do at work. I was lucky that I liked both experiences. Also, once you get into the company, you are encouraged to explore your interests and learn about different facets of banking.
Q: Could you give some suggestions to students who just graduated and want to enter the field?
A: A lot of companies have training programs for new hires. At Bank of America, for example, they have various rotation programs that usually last two years that covers almost all lines of private banking business. I got into a financial management associate program that provided potential exposures to various financial groups that cover the global market, wealth management, and consumer business. I would highly recommend these types of programs as it gives you a lot of different experiences, and you also get to connect with so many different people. After two years, you would have opportunities to get interviewed by the managers of various groups and be chosen to fill their vacancies.
I started to do price valuation for mortgage security products in finance under the CFO organization right after I graduated. Then I moved on to commercial banking using what I learned during the two year program afterwards.
Q: What do you think is the key of being chosen by BOA?
A: I think for an internship a lot of the time the company is not looking for too many technical skills. They usually care more about your interaction during the interview and see if you have the potential. They would look at how you solve problems, how you deal with obstacles, and how you correct things when they are not on the right track. They also look at your logical thinking skills. I thought I was really “prepared” before the interview as I practiced answers to possible questions HR would ask, but it turned out that they just tried to go deeper into what you said and tried to figure out what kind of person you were.
Q: What should you focus as a Asian student if you want to go into finance?
A: I think you definitely have to have a high-energy personality. They want someone who is easy to work with, embodies the company culture and is a team player. If you are still in school you may want to pick up a sport or club you are interested in. Besides your strong academic performance, if you can add some color into your resume to show that you are well-rounded and also a team player.
Q: You mentioned that you had trouble understanding what was taught during the class during your freshman year. How did you overcome the barrier and become so fluent in English?
A: I moved to the US from Qingdao when I was at high school. When I got into college, I was not an outgoing person. I also knew that language was going to be my barrier. At that time, one class year would only have few Chinese students. I liked talking with them in Chinese, but I also forced myself to go out of my comfort zone and talk to students from other cultures. I joined the Steering Committee as a way to meet new people. The committee helped me to connect with other students with diverse backgrounds, and together we had the mutual goal to create the best experience possible at school. I told my friends to correct my grammar mistakes right away when they heard me saying the wrong thing. I made so many grammar mistakes and learned a lot from them.
Hao He: WeChat is a good thing and bad thing. It allows you to keep updated about what is happening in China but it locks you in a small group. Maybe you feel it takes extra effort to talk to people from different cultures at the beginning, but you have to learn how to communicate with other people if you are looking for a job in the United States.
Q: What resources did you use during your time on campus?
A: I went to many information sessions and on campus recruiting sessions to talk with alumni and then would connect with them on LinkedIn. I learned about their experiences, the different cultures of the firms, and received guidance on how to find a job. I spoke with many of our Babson alumni at Bank of America who shared interview tips and helped in my preparation for interviews.
Q: What other tips do you have for students who are still on campus?
A: After I joined BofA and started to interview people, I found out that companies do value students who have strong academic performances. So finance students may want to make sure that you have a great GPA (3.5 or above). Another tip is that when you are on campus, you can join clubs and extracurricular activities outside of classes to diversify your resume as companies like people who are more experienced and have more leadership skills.