Connie Trinh, Class of 2014, is living proof that a person has to be prepared to be flexible about career planning. After a degree in economics and finance, and three internships related to that field, Trinh made a discovery about herself that caused her to change gears. Now she's working at Google in Singapore, advising clients about advertising adjacent to Google search results while she considers further career options.
As befits the company's global reputation, "Singagooglers" have a cool office — hammocks, meeting spaces in converted Tuk-Tuks, kitchens that resemble Singapore's renowned food stalls — and of course the big and growing company offer a vast range of career options. But it's a long way from Wall Street.
NYUAD, she says, gave her the ability to understand — and to make — the career change she needed. "I came to NYUAD being a little restricted in my mind-set; now I'm more open to other opportunities. I see myself living in other countries in Asia, and South America is good, Africa is good. Or Europe …"
"At the end of the day, it's your life, you do what you feel happy about the impact you are generating, not doing what everyone else is. So I said 'OK, what’s the next cool thing?'
Born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Trinh moved to England after Grade 11, to do what the British call A-levels, in preparation for university. "But after two years I found British-style education too narrow-focused. American liberal-arts education was very different." Someone mentioned NYUAD, and soon she was in the first freshman class.
"I declared my major early," Trinh recalls, "economics and finance, and a minor in math … I knew what I wanted to do; I was very into the whole idea of investment banking.
"So I prepared myself for that. My sophomore summer I interned with Ernst & Young in Abu Dhabi, and then went back to Vietnam to do an internship at VinaCapital, the country's biggest mutual fund. So I exposed myself to different angles in the finance industry, to see what I liked.
"The next summer I went to New York and interned at HSBC there, on the trading floor. That was the thing I'd been trying for, for so long – to intern on Wall Street; working towards a full-time job there.
"But by the end of that internship I realized that maybe it’s not for me, just in terms of personality. The finance industry is great. But each industry requires a certain sort of personality … I couldn't see myself doing investment banking by a few years after college.
"At the end of the day, it's your life, you do what you feel happy about the impact you are generating, not doing what everyone else is. So I said 'OK, what’s the next cool thing?' You have consulting, and tech firms. I didn't know anything about consulting. And I was not a computer science major or anything, either, but I applied to Google Singapore and now I'm with Google AdWords, helping advertisers optimize their campaigns. Instead of working with big investment banks, I'm working with small businesses. It's very rewarding; you get close to people … it's very tangible, helping clients day by day."
The internships she landed while at NYUAD served her well, Trinh says, even though she's now in another field: "Internships show you what you like and what you don't like. I still don't know what I'll doing in 10 years, but already I can strike out a lot of options. Getting those good opportunities really helps you understand what you want, or what you don't want."
And NYUAD's Career Development Center was a big help, she volunteers, and not just in identifying internships. "For my one in New York, there was a lot of paperwork and requirements because I'm a Vietnamese citizen … A lot international students struggle with getting working visas. But CDC worked closely with me, connected me with the CDC in New York to make it all happen. They really went the extra mile to help you whole-heartedly … I'm super-grateful."