“My progress at Isenberg has been anything but linear,” notes management major Mikaela Hensen. “I went in as a double major in legal studies and management with an eye toward nonprofit organizations,” she recalls. Fast forward four years: On July 1, Hensen will join the venerable investment bank, Cowen and Company in Manhattan, as an investment banking analyst. That role will encompass IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, and other transactions in the technology and media industries.
How does a management major launch a career in the traditional domain of finance graduates? For Hensen, the solution has been overperforming academically and networking, especially with Isenberg graduates. To that end, she transcended her comfort zone with finance courses and independent study. And for three years, she got to know scores of graduates as alumni director of Isenberg’s student organization, Women in Business. In that role, she secured speakers, mentors, and networking opportunities for her fellow students.
In her junior year, Hensen had dinner with Cowen managing director and UMass alum Chris McCabe ’81, who encouraged her to apply to the firm for an internship. That summer, she excelled at Cowen as an analyst in the firm’s technology group and a full-time offer followed. “At Cowen, I discovered female mentors and many interns and employees from nonfinance backgrounds,” she recalls. “Clearly, the industry is moving in the direction of greater diversity.”
Overseas study and immersion have conferred a second avenue of personal growth. The Isenberg senior earned the university’s International Scholars Certificate through a year of study in New Zealand and Isenberg’s own Citizens First program in South Africa. “One of my long-term goals is to live and work as an expat,” she muses. “I thrive on new landscapes, new perspectives.” Less uplifting, the current coronavirus crisis has also brought uncharted waters. “The situation is hard,” Hensen observes. “But my message to my classmates is straightforward: You have a choice to be disappointed or build off of the challenge.”
Hensen’s father, Frederick, and his twin brother also graduated from Isenberg, in 1984.