Profiles | Feb 02, 2021 | Gabelli School of Business
Julia de Xavier, BS ’21, on Finding a Voice
By Ashley Rabinovitch
“It’s always rewarding to be part of something new,” reflected Julia de Xavier, BS ’21, a member of the Gabelli School’s Global Business Honors Program. As a student coming from Markham, Ontario, a small city in the Greater Toronto Area, de Xavier mitigated the culture shock of moving to New York by diving into campus life and creating new avenues for impact.
In addition to helping plan events with the Fordham Investor Relations Association in an effort to introduce students to a side of finance they may never have considered before, de Xavier has played a significant role in getting the newly formed Fordham Angel Fund off the ground.
Created by the Fordham Foundry to support student entrepreneurs, the Fordham Angel Fund leverages the budding investing skills of students like de Xavier to identify and evaluate entrepreneurial ideas within the Fordham ecosystem. One of the recent entrepreneurial ventures that captured de Xavier’s attention was a company based out of the Bronx that employs women from the Bangladeshi community to design and produce traditional clothing.
“I have a special interest in microfinance for the immigrant population, so the opportunity to support a student-run social enterprise that is actively making a local community more self-sufficient was incredibly fulfilling for me,” she shared.
Inspiring Other Women
This year, de Xavier became even more deeply invested in campus life when she and several friends co-founded the Women in Finance and Economics Club with a vision for encouraging younger students to maximize their time at Fordham. “I know what it’s like to be one of among just two or three female students in a group of 40,” said de Xavier. “It can be intimidating to speak out. This new club is geared toward helping other women find their voice. We tell them that they can achieve what they want to achieve and go where they want to go.”
One of the key insights that de Xavier and her co-founders share with younger students is that there is no recipe for success in the world of finance and economics.
“We often absorb the message that only certain types of people with certain personalities are well-suited for a career in finance,” she explained. “It was initially off-putting to me to think that I had to develop an alpha personality to achieve my goals, when I am actually quite shy and reserved by nature.”
Overcoming Presentation Anxiety
De Xavier’s thoughtful way of discussing her experiences is the product of a deep struggle to improve her communications abilities. “Without a doubt, delivering presentations has been one of the most challenging aspects of earning my degree,” she acknowledged. After persevering through several classes focused on presentation skills, participating in the Consulting Cup Challenge, and taking advantage of career services to practice her interviewing skills, de Xavier effectively overcame her communication anxiety.
“Throughout the process, I learned that there are quite a few people like me, not just in the classroom but in the world’s leading financial institutions,” she recognized. “There is definitely a wider range of personalities than people may realize. It’s affirming to know that I am not alone.”
Forging a Career Path
Between personalized career coaching and practice-focused coursework, de Xavier felt well-prepared for internships at Värde and Goldman Sachs. “My professors have always ensured that we apply the cases we study and technical skills we develop rather than getting stuck in the theoretical weeds, which was helpful throughout each of my internships,” she affirmed.
Over a year and a half at Värde, de Xavier worked on a variety of projects in her role as a finance and valuations intern. She continued building her knowledge base through a summer in the Financial Institutions Group in the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs, where she went on to accept a full-time analyst position, which she will begin in the summer of 2021. “I was thrilled for the opportunity to gain a strong foundation in investment banking and explore new directions for the future,” she shared.
While de Xavier’s experiences have equipped her with the career connections, technical skills, and global perspective she needed to land a job at a leading financial services firm, she said they also imparted something even more valuable.
“Studying finance at Fordham has driven home the message that people should remain at the center of everything we do,” she explained. “While we enjoy the challenge of solving complex financial problems, we can’t lose sight of how finance impacts every aspect of people’s lives. It’s a lesson that I will carry with me as I take the next step.”
Ashley Rabinovitch is a brand journalist who specializes in higher education, entrepreneurship, and healthcare.