IEU Experience

01/02/2024

For Alum Alyssa Nichols, IE University was an essential stop on her way to a vibrant career in investment. One year on, she explains how the experience is helping to make her dreams come true.

Alyssa Nichols is currently thriving at global investment management firm, T. Rowe Price. Over the last year, she’s scaled the ladder from what was essentially an internship to a new permanent investment analyst role. But her professional journey started much earlier on, within the Bachelor in Economics classroom at IE University.

Guided by strategic vision

Alyssa knew what she wanted to study even before deciding where she’d send in her application. Her combined interests in economics, finance and investing have long-shaped her academic and professional choices—ultimately, her goal was always to launch a successful career in the industry. 

Having a clear career path in mind proved quite helpful during the university search. Alyssa was able to narrow down her options quickly, allowing her to focus only on institutions and programs that aligned with her goals. “The Bachelor in Economics was the only one that seemed to provide a well-rounded degree,” she says. That, plus the ability to take investing-focused electives, solidified her decision to enroll in the program.

Once at IE University, Alyssa dove fully in. She excelled in her classes, especially those related to her favorite topics: game theory and capital markets. But more importantly, she established a solid foundation for her professional future. As she explains, “This program and my natural passion for the subject have served me very well along my career path; I have lots of options to choose from.”

A new opportunity

And she was right. Soon after completing the program, Alyssa began her next adventure as a T. Rowe Price Investment Fellow. The fellowship allows recent graduates to undertake six-month rotations within four distinct business units. For a total of two years, fellows build knowledge and skills in a wide range of areas, including trading analytics, multi-asset research, quant analysis and marketing intelligence, among others.

The fellowship typically leads to permanent job placements for the participants, often in one of the departments where they completed a rotation. Alyssa started hers in the firm’s Investment and Trading Solutions team, where she was “Building the apps and tools used by Fixed Income portfolio managers (PMs), portfolio investment analysts (PIAs) and other staff members directly related to the accounts and funds we manage.” Apart from the practical experience she gained, the rotation helped Alyssa realize that she wanted her future career to be more “market-facing” instead of research-centric.

Just five months into the fellowship, a new position opened up in the Fixed Income PIA unit—and yet again, Alyssa jumped right in. An application and an interview later, she exited the fellowship early to start her new, full-time job as a senior Fixed Income portfolio investment analyst, based in Maryland in the US. “I work with portfolio managers and the rest of the trading desk to help model and execute the PMs’ goals and strategies.”

“I always knew that I wanted to work in the finance and investment industry, and the Bachelor in Economics seemed to provide a well-rounded experience, allowing for electives that focus more heavily on investing.”

Alyssa Nichols

Holistic learning for the win

Looking back, Alyssa recognizes all the ways IE University set her up for real-world success. She says she graduated from the Bachelor in Economics with a skill set tailor-made to catch the eye of potential employers and recruiters from leading companies. 

The program goes beyond the classic academic template; far from just lectures and exams, a strong emphasis is placed on practical, hands-on learning. From classes, case studies, presentations, reports and projects, to extracurriculars and training in soft skills like communication and problem-solving—Alyssa admits that IE University’s holistic mixed bag of academic experiences transformed her into an in-demand professional.

As it turns out, her global mindset was another differentiating factor that set her apart in the job market. Alyssa explains it best: “IE University being an international institution, both in location and student body, helped me stand out from other candidates back home. Many times, interviews would start and heavily focus on my decision to go abroad, as well as how I fared in an environment outside my comfort zone.” For employers, the diverse experience was undeniable proof of her adaptability, broad perspective and capacity to shine in multicultural, multinational settings.

And when it was time to actually do the work, she found it so much easier to adjust to her new responsibilities. “With the wide variety of classes I took,” she adds, “I was able to have a baseline understanding of most of the concepts I was introduced to in my first few weeks on the job.”

Assert your way to success

For Alyssa, the only way to succeed in the Bachelor in Economics is by putting in the effort to keep up your GPA and figure out which areas of the discipline interest you most. “Also, get comfortable expressing interest in the things you want,” she says. “So far, I’ve found the best way to move forward in my career is by putting myself out there so that the people making the decisions know if they gave me an opportunity, I’d be highly motivated to do the job well.”

She advises other students to make the most of the services available through IE Talent & Careers, who helped her rework her resume to best highlight her skills. They were also instrumental during the interview prep process, providing practice materials relevant to the jobs she was applying for. Crediting IE University for her professional progress, she states, “It’s an excellent opportunity to not only get an education and a good start to your career, but to make lifelong friends from all corners of the world.”