How important is it to intern when considering what you want to do for the rest of your life? Ask Stony Brook alumnus Hugh Alvarado ’10, whose internship at the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at the Yale School of Medicine changed his mind about becoming a physician.
Alvarado was a biology and chemistry major until the sight of blood and the prospect of long years of study convinced him to switch to political science and eventually declare economics as his major. He then parlayed successful internships at both Hertz and Merrill Lynch into a career as a project analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The internships helped him discover that an analytical mind and entrepreneurial bent suited him for the world of finance.
“Choosing a career is like shopping,” Alvarado said. “You wouldn’t buy clothes without trying them on, and you shouldn’t pick a career without trying it out by interning in the field of your choice.”
Alvarado first became interested in finance while he was still a junior in high school. “I remember being particularly attracted to the little ticker symbols and prices located at the back of the business section of The New York Times,” he said. “However, it wasn’t until my junior year in college that I learned the meaning of those symbols and why their prices are always changing.”
Another inkling that he had a talent to take a start-up and grow it came when Career Center counselor Urszula Zalewski introduced him to the Community Service Club, which only had six members at the time. The club’s small size and lack of direction afforded Alvarado the opportunity to use his entrepreneurial skills to take the club to another level. “During the first couple of weeks I was involved we posted flyers in every dorm hall, library and cafeteria on campus,” he said. “We also recruited members at every campus involvement fair.”
His efforts helped create a buzz about the club and word of mouth fueled its growing membership. By the end of his first semester Alvarado was unanimously voted in as club treasurer.
His next order of business was to create opportunities for off-campus volunteerism. “We formed partnerships with local senior citizen homes, hospitals and soup kitchens and participated in national food and clothing drives,” Alvarado said.
By the end of the year he had become the club’s vice president and weekly meetings were attracting an average of 50 students. The club only lacked Student Government funding so the next order of business, aside from fundraising, was to convince the USG officials that the club warranted University support.
By the time he ascended to president of the club in his final year of membership, more than 120 students attended the first general session. During that final year he helped schedule a number of guest speakers, the club hosted its first-ever fashion show for senior citizens, painted a dilapidated school in Brooklyn and drew Dean of Students Jerrold Stein to its meetings.
Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, noticed the club’s contributions as well. Alavardo received the 2010 Distinguished Community Service Award for his efforts.
“Serving on the board of the Community Service Club helped develop the leadership skills that I use every day at Bank of America Merrill Lynch,” said Alvarado.
Today, Alvarado is a project analyst, responsible for planning and executing projects aimed at increasing operation efficiency, reducing risk and developing software to support new business initiatives.
This spring Alvarado hosted Stony Brook students at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Global Securities Operations for a “day in the life experience” event that included a panel discussion on career development and an interactive trading simulation game.
He remains active as an alumnus by mentoring Stony Brook students. Recalling how Career Center counselors Urszula Zalewski and Taryn Kutujian shored up his résumé writing and communicating skills, Alvarado views mentoring as a way to give back to his alma mater.
— Glenn Jochum