International student maps out his success
While he moved through college, Nicolas Romero had a mantra that kept him focused and determined.
“I am responsible for my career,” he would tell himself.
As he finishes his last semester at Rutgers Business School, Romero is ready to launch that career. He will begin a full-time job at Ernst & Young next year in the company’s IT and Risk Assurance Division.
During his journey, Romero, a 21-year-old international student from Bogota, Colombia, demonstrated qualities that have become a Rutgers Business School brand: resilient, resourceful, responsible.
After graduating high school at 16, Romero came to the United States from Colombia on a student visa. It was his first time leaving home, his first time living in a different country and his first time meeting an aunt who he lived with as he got settled.
He had learned some English before leaving Colombia, but once he arrived in New Jersey, Romero attended a non-credit, year-long English as a Second Language program at Union County College. And then he began studying business.
Romero met other international students at UCC. He joined the student government, which offered him a chance to earn money to help pay for his education. He also tutored and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
He was making his way. But Romero said, “I wanted to think bigger.”
Romero was weighing the possibility of transferring into Seton Hall or Rutgers when he heard about a competition Rutgers Business School was hosting for county college students. It was the inaugural New Jersey Community College Case Competition organized by Rutgers Business School's undergraduate program in Newark.
“It was definitely a challenge,” Romero said of the experience he shared with a team from UCC. “We didn’t win, but we spent a full day at Rutgers Business School. I could see myself here.”
At Rutgers, Romero began studying finance and management science and information systems. He joined the Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Incorporated, which gave him a circle of friends and mentors. “It was a turning point,’ he said.
For all the friends he had made at UCC, Romero said it was the fraternity where he built strong ties, where he found his place. “I became invested in it,” he said.
He also took advantage of opportunities at Rutgers: He worked as a teaching assistant. He used the resources from the Office of Career Management. He learned about the non-profit Inroads and with the organization’s help, received a summer internship at AIG as a financial analyst.
“Whatever resources you have access to, you have to maximize them,” he said.
In any good success story, there’s usually a little serendipity. Romero experienced some himself. When he was finishing his work study job one afternoon last fall, he spotted a barbecue outside on the third-floor patio at Rutgers Business School's building at 1 Washington Park [watch virtual tour].
Romero said he remembered seeing a flier about an Ernst & Young. And he was hungry. “I thought, oh, I’ll just stop by,” he said.
He started making small talk with Vivek Gulati, who works in risk assurance at E&Y, asking questions about his work and his career path. “I wasn’t trying to impress him. We were just having a conversation,” Romero said.
The conversation led to an email. It resulted in Romero applying for an internship. After three interviews, he was offered a spot as an intern at EY, and he spent the internship working closely with Gulati.
Gulati watched Romero excel. “He was a good listener and he was confident enough to ask questions,” he said of Romero. “I saw him take ownership of the work.”
“He was also very active about networking and he’s still in touch with all of the people he worked with during his internship,” Gulati said. “That’s something that E&Y cares about. They want to know that you can form relationships.”
When Romero begins his new job, he also plans to pursue a Masters in Information Technology and Analytics. The master’s program, he said, will enable him to spend two years working at Ernst & Young before he has to apply for a work visa, return to Colombia or move to another country.
It is hardly daunting to him. He could end up moving to a country like Australia, he said, where he has always wanted to go. “For now, I’m just enjoying the present,” Romero said. “I want to continue to grow.”
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