Student Participants of the Union Financial Network Reflect on Their Experience


Students of the UFN Bootcamp with President Harris (far left).

Candice Nguyen, Contributing Writer

The Union Financial Network (UFN) is a two-week intensive program for students who are interested in a career in finance. It was hosted over winter break. Taking place in NYC, students have opportunities to learn and connect with alumni who work in a broad range of associated areas, including investment and commercial banking, hedge funds, asset management, trading, corporate finance, private equity, venture capital, etc. 

Taking a spin from the traditional “Walk down Wall Street,” UFN is the first ever finance focus field that Union offers and here are some of the students from class of ‘25 to ‘23 experience and reflection about the program. 

What do you like/ enjoy most about the program? 

  • My favorite part of the program was the alumni reception and the dinner with the board members. It was really nice to hear and learn from successful Union Alumni in the finance industry. (Andrew Lau ‘24, Managerial Economic/ Data Analytics minor)
  • As someone who isn’t majoring in economics I really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about financial and economic concepts. I think that aspect of the program was the most beneficial for future conversations. (Ashley Pontillo ‘25, Computer Engineering/ math minor)
  • Coming in, I knew very little about the roadmap to getting into finance, but after talking with Alumni, it feels a lot more clear to me. The process has been made so much more approachable and has given me a definite direction. (William “Beck” Buchanan ‘25, Political Science/ Economic Double Major)
  • “The sites visit week where we get a chance to go to different banks and firms are my favorite. Going to see professionals in their elements, experiencing the culture of each site, and having a conversation with them offer a different dimension than something you would get from a classroom which is something I enjoy” (Nic Castillo ‘25, Economic Major)

Biggest lesson you’ve learned so far? 

  • The biggest lesson I learned was the importance of networking and building relationships (Andrew Lau ‘24, Managerial Economics) 
  • The biggest lesson I learned was that alumni want to help Union students and not be afraid to continue to follow up with them. (Emma Maley ‘23, Political Science Major/ English & Film Studies Minor)
  • The biggest lesson I learned is how to talk to alumni or anyone else in a professional situation. The program leaders, other students, and even alumni gave a lot of tips for how to come off confidently and show you’re eager to learn. (Ashley Pontillo ‘25, Computer Engineering/ Math minor)
  • The biggest lesson I learned is that in order to be successful in finance, you need to make sure that you love it and can engage with your work on a daily basis. (Andrew Lavin ‘25, Economic Major) 

How has UFN changed your perspective? 

  • UFN changed my perspective on the financial industry, specifically became more enlightened on what certain jobs are and learned what it was like for these people that have been working in finance for their careers. (Andrew Lau ‘24, Managerial Economic/ Data Analytic minor) 
  • Before going to the UFN bootcamp I felt uncertain about many things, but when I was in the bootcamp I realized that getting out of your comfort zone is necessary in order to understand how this industry works. (Sara Marenco ‘24, Economic Major)
  • Before UFN I felt that there was a barrier of entry to the finance sector for people from liberal arts backgrounds. Seeing so many union alumni successful in finance, and moreover seeing Union alumni eager to offer their support convinced me that this barrier can easily be broken, and that I could one day find myself on wall street without majoring in business or finance at a university. (Andrew Lavin ‘25, Economic Major)
  • My experience was overall extremely useful and reaffirmed my interest in Finance. It gave me important skills that I will be able to use entering the workforce. I wish I had this opportunity before my internship last summer, so I would recommend this to anyone wanting to apply to internships going into their Junior or Senior Year. (Emma Maley ‘23, Political Science Major/ English & Film Studies Minor)

Any other comments? If you can, what would you change about the program?

  • Overall I had a great experience during the program and if I could participate again next year I would. I would recommend the program to anyone that thinks they might be interested in the finance industry, even if they aren’t necessarily interested in investment banking or sales and trading. I wouldn’t change much about the program except for the class structure. I think all of the information was very valuable and I wouldn’t take anything out but sitting in a conference room for 8+ hours a day was a lot (Ashley Pontillo ‘25, Computer Engineering/ Math minor)
  • This program is a great way to learn about careers on Wall Street and to gain a layer of knowledge that you would not find within your course work at Union. There is very little I would change about the program but I wish there were more opportunities to engage with financial modeling at Union, cramming all that knowledge in one week makes it hard to retain the skills I learned at UFN (Andrew Lavin ‘25, Economic Major)
  • Overall, my one regret about the UFN Bootcamp is that I probably won’t be able to do it again. Going forwards, I would love to see the UFN program continue to expand to include educational and alumni experiences outside of the two weeks in New York. Students who aren’t in Economics are in a much higher demand by the finance industry than they might know, and expanding UFN could go a long way to helping bridge that gap (William “Beck” Buchanan ‘25, Political Science/ Economic Major)