Giving back to her peers and her community, Valerie Quintana is a senior finance major who will graduate this May. During her tenure at UTSA she completed internships with Booz Allen Hamilton and USAA and was active on the President’s Student Advisory Council and with the Investment Society. Upon graduation she will begin her career as a digital product manager at USAA.
Over my four years, my favorite class has been Life and Health Insurance Finance taught by Professor Sweet. This class went into depth about the ethical challenges the industry faced, the different types of life insurance and the idea behind employers offering health insurance as a benefit to employees. This was a very enjoyable class since on the surface level, health and life insurance are very complex products, but he made the class exciting and easy to learn. His lessons are applicable to daily life and have even helped me when giving advice to friends and family.
In my finance work, Dr. Bhanot helped me understand the principles of finance and ensured that everyone in his class knew the material. As my first finance professor he made finance seem less intimidating than it was and encouraged me to pursue it as a major.
Outside of finance, Dr. Utecht assisted me with internships and other career goals. He is a great professor to seek advice about which path one should look into as a career. Dr. Utecht also notices students’ strengths in class and really pushes them to become a better version of themselves. His guidance and belief in me pushed me to the next level as a student and in my career.
How has COVID affected your studies or you personally this semester?
The pandemic imposed a difficult transition from in-person to online learning. I enjoy in-person learning a lot more since students can have conversations with peers after class or have the ability to ask professors quick questions as they’re walking out of the lecture hall. However, without the daily commutes I have more time for reading, working and exercising.
What have you learned most from your program of study thus far?
Finance is an exciting and large area of study. Outside of class, it is extremely important to be reading material that relates to the sector or business you are studying so that you can learn the finer points of it. Outside of particular industries, reading about risk management, statistics and theory can help you understand the market better and become more comfortable when speaking about an area as big as finance.
Any organizations or activities that you’ve been involved with in the COB or at UTSA?
I have been involved with several organizations at UTSA. For two years, I represented College of Business students in the President’s Student Advisory Council. I was also a managing director in the Investment Society and held an executive position in a sorority dedicated to community service. My favorite part of being involved on campus was having the ability to give back to my peers and community.
What are you watching, reading or listening to right now?
Right now I am reading “Against the Gods” by Peter L. Bernstein. Outside of finance I often do research on sustainable farming and the future of farming in the United States. This is a very interesting field of entrepreneurship that I hope to be a part of in the future.
Professional work experience or internships that you’ve participated in?
I have completed two professional internships. In 2019 I was a project manager intern with Booz Allen Hamilton. This internship dove deep into artificial intelligence, sensor technology and augmented reality in order to create a product package to revolutionize construction management within the Department of Defense. My managers worked closely with my team to develop a rapid prototype to present at a conference with 80 other competing teams from other Booz Allen offices. At the conference we presented our pitch to the firm’s executives and were one of the top 10 finalists. During this short time, my managers and teammates taught me skills that I will use for the rest of my career.
In my second internship I was a digital product manager intern at USAA. This internship took my finance skill set to a completely different level and helped broaden my knowledge of technology and finance all at once. My managers took me under their wing and taught me the principles of product management and how to further my career in this field. In my time at USAA I was also able to volunteer with the American Red Cross and complete a side project with interns from different areas that focused on the creation of new insurance products. Since insurance and finance are huge passions of mine this was the perfect internship to end my college career.
I am also so excited to have accepted a full-time job offer with USAA as a digital product manager starting this summer. My mentors at USAA, UTSA and Booz Allen have all helped me land a great opportunity to begin my professional career.
What are your future career plans?
My future career plans include working at USAA full-time as a digital product manager and attending graduate school at UTSA. I will also be taking my CFA Level 1 exam later this year.