H@H: Ep 74 – When you’re facing too many challenges in a competitive career market, what can you do to stand out? For Kevin Truong, a first-generation college student who came from an immigrant family, it’s having a persistent attitude towards career and life as a whole.
Kevin has always lived an interesting life since he was diagnosed with dwarfism at 4, which stunted his physical development. His condition may have given him limitations and attracted very few friends, but it only made him grow stronger and tougher internally. Through his focus and determination in his goals, he has unknowingly inspired many people at school and work.
Kevin has earned two associate degrees alongside his high school diploma and scholarship grant. He’s in his final year as a Business Administration student at UC Berkeley Haas and is pursuing a career in investment banking at Credit Suisse.
In this episode, Kevin opens up about his unique experiences and shares how he faced his greatest fear of getting employed after college.
On choosing Haas business program
[00:9:14] What attracted me to Haas is the practical nature of what you learn. I want my education to be applicable to whatever I do in the future. And what I’ve learned at Haas has been pretty useful to my future job and career path. I got to experience firsthand beginning my freshman year the Haas community, which is very collaborative. There’s a lot of people in Haas and UC Berkeley in general, doing very awesome things. Everyone here is very motivated, ambitious to pursue whatever they want to do. And being surrounded by a community of like-minded ambitious individuals who will push you to be the best vision of yourself was very attractive to me.
On joining Capital Investments at Berkeley
I honestly did not expect to get into the club at all. I definitely did not have a perfect interview by any means, but I was interviewed by the president and a guy who had become my mentor in the club at that time. And I think he, later on, told me that despite my lack of finance experience, they really took my background into account. They knew I was first-generation and did not have any family that worked in business or finance before. Despite not knowing that much, they were impressed by how much I knew. They could tell that I was hardworking and it would contribute positively to the club. I’m really grateful for them taking a chance on me.
How CIB helped Kevin prepare for the finance industry
[00:17:33] We have a very well-developed financial education curriculum. We do pitches and invest in our members’ pitches. And it’s these experiences that really helped me hone my technical finance skills. If I hadn’t gotten into this club, I would’ve had to learn all of this on my own time, and that would’ve been much more difficult. But because I went through this program that the club provides, and I’m surrounded by people who have had internships, who know about all these things, it really helped. I’m really grateful for this club taking a chance on me, and I do my best to give back and pass on what I know and help out a lot of the younger members.
On mentoring first-generation students through Matriculate
[00:20:36] Matriculate provides free college advising and mentorship to low-income, high-achieving high school students all across the nation. I act as an advising fellow, basically meet with them weekly, and help them with their college list, making a testing plan, helping them write their essays, helping them apply to scholarships. It’s like walking them through the entire process because most of these students are first-generation like me and don’t have any idea how. And for me, I just love giving back and helping people, especially those from similar backgrounds as me.