Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Tommy Kwon

Name: Tommy Kwon (Class of 2010)

Occupation:  Senior Financial Analyst

Education (UR and additional): B.A. (Financial Economics)

Current city/state of residence: Los Angeles, CA

Community activities: Volunteering at local church, making hand-drip coffee, coffee roasting

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I chose the University of Rochester mainly for the curriculum: no General Ed. classes. Also, having a variety of opportunity to pursue your passion in research and small class size was an important factor that led me to attend UR.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

The first activity I did was to join various international clubs as well as apply for the Resident Advisor position as a freshman. Joining int’l clubs such as the Korean American Student Association and Chinese Student Association led me to develop friendships in a variety of ethnicities as well as learn other cultures. On the other hand, being chosen to be a RA starting my sophomore year opened doors to leadership and greater responsibility. I had the opportunity to interact with students from different backgrounds and learned how to handle situations of all kinds that could happen at a college dorm. In addition, as a RA, I got to develop friendships with my residents, fellow RAs, Residential Life staff, as well as some key UR faculty members.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

I highly recommend visiting the Career Center as early as possible, not right when you need to apply for an internship or a job. When entry-level jobs are hard to find and very competitive, I think it is best to gain as much experience as possible and build your resume to the job field you want as early as possible. In this way, you will have at least four years to gain the necessary skills to get you to where you want to be and be that person employers want.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I had a great opportunity to join one of the world’s most famous theme parks with a live-working movie studio as a Senior Financial Analyst at NBCUniversal’s Universal Studios Hollywood. I manage financial budgets for the theme park operations and attractions (rides) as well as various capital projects that happen inside the theme park. I chose this career because I have always wanted to manage a theme park and learn about its operations. One of the best parts about working in Finance at a theme park is that the product you are selling is the theme park experience. Unlike a material product where you can’t see for yourself how well your product is selling other than pull the sales report from a system, at a theme park, you can walk to the park and see how well the day is going by just being there.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

I majored in Financial Economics. The most useful tool I learned from my major is analysis. My current role requires critical data analysis and analyzing trends. Economics have taught me how to interpret data and understand what the data means.

What advice do you have for current students?

Time management and networking. I highly recommend building your career from as early as a freshman and apply for internships during summer breaks in a field you want to start your career. Start networking with people in the career field you want to be in. In this economy, gaining the necessary experience employers search for and networking is KEY!