Forté Foundation
Career Lab Virtual Campus

How to Balance School and a Side Hustle

By Caitlin Menosky

September 20, 2018

The side hustle. If you have been engaged with social media, followed certain blogs, or even searched in a browser “how to make extra money,” odds are you have stumbled upon the concept of a “side hustle.” From college students to corporate workers, it can seem like everyone is infatuated with the new trend.

However, a side hustle in its purest form is just an additional revenue stream if you are already working, or a part-time opportunity if you would otherwise not be generating income.

As undergraduate college students, many of us would fall in the latter category. Whether a part-time shift job, selling handmade goods online, or dog walking, all these opportunities constitute a side hustle. If you have decided that you want one or currently are excelling at your own side hustle, it is important to maintain balance between this opportunity and your education.

The following suggestions, which I have garnered from working my own side hustles (university dorm resident assistant, online tutor, and barista respectively) have been curated get you thinking about getting the most out of your education as well as your own side hustle.

Assess Your Schedule

Whether you keep a planner, a bullet journal or an online calendar, it is important to know your class schedule and any other non-negotiable commitments you may have. From there you can plan out what a typical week may look like. If your side hustle involves a boss or superior to whom you report, it is also important to share and continually update them on your availability.

Being a student first means that classes are times unavailable for the side hustle, but you should also account for study time and time to work on projects. It is important to remain honest with yourself and your availability—it is much better to take on responsibility as your gain confidence rather than needing to scale back when you find yourself too overwhelmed.

Block Out Time

This suggestion is aimed more at those who set their own side hustle schedule, but can work for any activity you wish to regularly schedule. Once you have decided your availability, figure out how frequently, what time(s) of day, and for how long you wish to work.

Ask yourself how much time you want to dedicate to this hustle. Is this going to be a strong source of income for you? What about a creative outlet, or a way to build a portfolio? Before you set aside fifteen-plus hours a week on a side hustle, decide whether you need to, and then if you want to.

While we all want to aim for excellence, you may find an equal amount of rewarding experience from fewer hours of work.

Next, whether you are an early bird or a night owl, knowing the time of day you are most productive will help you decide which times to work on school and which times you can dedicate to your side hustle.

Finally, decide how much time you want to work on your side hustle in each “session.” For example, a tutoring session may run an hour or more in the evening, but setting aside time to knit may just be twenty minutes a few times a day. Finding the most productive time, the amount of total time, and then the length of “work chunks” will help you achieve progress while also maintaining balance.

Set Goals

When you take on additional work, even that which excites you and which brings you joy, it can be easy to lose sight of why you took on this side hustle. It is important to set, evaluate, and then adjust goals you may have for your side hustle.

If your main aim is to make money, assess if you are making the amount you would like and if you are saving or spending it accordingly.

If your hustle was intended to help build a portfolio, what projects have you completed and what lessons have you learned? Are you compiling all this work in a way that is easy to show potential clients or employers?

Setting goals allows you to stay focused and make sure your side hustle supplements, rather than detracts from, other commitments such as school. Allowing yourself to readjust goals and seek inspiration will keep your side hustle serving you rather than feeling like just another obligation.

While side hustles are trendy, there is no reason to intimidated by terminology. Various opportunities, some of which you may have already taken, are side hustles! Take this as the encouragement to keep rocking your side hustle, whether you aim to receive income, gain experience or both.

As a student first, balance can be hard to strike, but by implementing the suggestions above your side hustle can enrich your personal development as well as your bank account.

Caitlin Menosky is a current senior at Loyola University Chicago graduating December 2018. A member of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program, Caitlin is majoring in Economics with a minor in History. After graduation, Caitlin wishes to explore the fields of talent development or policy making.

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My Side Hustle Story: From Dining Hall Worker to Online Entrepreneur

By Alejandra Carriazo

September 18, 2018

It was nearing the end of another 5-hour shift at the dining hall, and the clock ticked eleven. I stood polishing up the last of the fine silverware from one of our house dinners, making conversation with one of my coworkers about our papers due the next day. With sleepy smiles and goodbyes we hung up our hats, closed up shop, and walked back to our apartments. I liked my coworkers and I knew my work was valuable, but as I dragged my tired feet along under the midnight sky and rubbed my aching shoulders, I wondered somewhere if there was something more stimulating (and less exhausting) I could do as a part time job.

I stifled this hope for a while – pickings were slim, and what could I do as a college sophomore with no experience except minimum wage work? But one day after another long shift, as I noted some store returns I had to make at a faraway mall, I thought: “I know a lot about clothes. What if I can sell this is at a profit?”

So I made a bet with myself: I’m going to sell these clothes I bought on sale for a bit of profit. If I do, my entrepreneurial dream has a chance.

Within a week I had found buyers for all of the things I had purchased, and what’s more, I made more in profit than I would have in that week’s shift of work. This work was fun, less tiring, and exciting, and I found myself thinking about potential investments while serving food the next week, eager for the next challenge.

For the next few months, I experimented with selling different clothing brands, and got a feel for the markets by talking to buyers on different selling platforms (Poshmark, Mercari, Depop, eBay and Vinted), learning about each selling platform’s buying audience, and tracking selling trends online. I set up an Excel spreadsheet to calculate my profit margins and the time it took to time to sell each item, and slowly,  I was learning. I zeroed in on a few brands that I knew a lot about – Anthropologie, Free People, and Wildfox – and cycled some others in and out.

Most importantly, I spent the time to handwrite thank you cards and package all my sales in neat, pretty wrapping paper. I shipped within a day and maintained prompt communication. After all, my customers were the heart of everything, and I wanted to show my appreciation and love for them.

And they appreciated me back – before long, I was making my salary for a month at the dining hall in a third of the time.

One fateful night about three months into my new venture, I woke up at about 4am and couldn’t sleep. Half-awake, I checked the sites I frequented for buying on my phone, and saw it: a rare printed hoodie in pristine condition everyone had been looking for on Poshmark from a 2011 limited edition collection, that someone had priced for $30. I bought it immediately – I knew this was going to be big.

And I was right. When it finally arrived neatly packaged to my dorm room, I spent half an hour taking pictures to get just the right lighting, and posted it excitedly. No one had sold this in recent history, so I thought, “I’m going to put some outrageous price on this just to see how people respond.” I priced it for $300. No one would buy it for that price. I would accept my best offer.

Or so I thought.

Four hours after I posted it, I was leaving a class and my phone vibrated. It had just sold for $300.

I stood there for a moment, struggling to process that not only I had just sold an item for ten times more than what I paid for it, but that I had made more than my month’s salary – a month of long, achy night shifts – in the half hour it had taken me to buy and post something.

It was decided. I gave in my two weeks’ notice to the dining hall manager when I came in for my next shift and decided to focus more on my side hustle. Over the next year, I played around with different styles and brands and scaled up my buying – at one point, I had 1,000 items listed online and was shipping out about 10 items a week.

I’m no Sophia Amoruso, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes – buying unpopular items that end up sitting, unclaimed and lonely, in a storage box – but I also had a lot of successes that kept me pushing forward. To date, I’ve made about $15,000 in aggregate income, and about half of that is profit. Not bad for a few hours a week.

The autonomy of running and managing my own online shop, even if it was just a side hustle, was incredibly liberating and exciting. I still sell on a low-key basis (I’ve mostly stopped to focus more on school and my summer internships), and still, two and a half years in, I’m learning more every day about how to sell, how to communicate with customers, and how to balance profits and expenses.

The best part? It was so much fun! I love clothes – you’d be hard pressed to find someone who loves them more than I do. I used to think that was a vice, but I’ve turned it into an asset. Anyone with a niche amount of knowledge has knowledge that can set them apart from others, and this creates value.

Do you know a lot about video games? Trading cards? Sneakers? Vinyl records? Chances are you know more than the next person, and if you want to you can turn any knowledge you thought was useless trivia into profit. You just have to learn to see it.

I’m Alejandra Carriazo, a History major at Cornell University set to graduate in the spring of 2019. My dream job would definitely be working in creative marketing and e-commerce in a company where I’m able to experiment with a lot of different projects!

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What Does it Mean to “Lean In?”

By Aury Cifuentes

March 29, 2018

Leaning In has been a phrase used for a while in which there is suggested power dynamic to a woman’s role in the firm. Our Women in Business organization at TCNJ did a series of articles for Women’s History Month and there are various implications to what this phrase can mean in a collegiate setting. 

Last semester, Women in Business introduced “Lean In Bingo” as one of our icebreaker activities, but the takeaways were greater than simply networking. The bingo board was available online as a supplement for those familiar with Sheryl Sandberg’s book and her concept of creating mentorship “circles” for women and allies. During the activity, some of the squares were intentionally a bit more difficult but for a good reason. Squares such as “is looking for a leadership opportunity” or “knows how to write code” were among other quirkier ones such as “is a twin.” This simple game had research behind practically every topic on the board, and some of the statistics were truly eye-opening. 

For example, HBR explored how women tend to only apply for jobs in which they meet 100% percent of the qualifications while their male counterparts apply even when they just reach 60%. Thus the leadership square highlighted this disparity and the differences in approaching an application whether for a job, internship, or internal position. Further, the coding square represented the lack of women represented in the tech sector. The other day, Sandberg replied to a Quora question via her official account that she does not know how to code, but she is learning just like many women out there. Although non-profits like Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code are targeting the youngest demographics, in general, there can be benefits to anyone at any age that is willing to learn something new.

Ultimately, “Leaning in” can mean something different for everyone. To some, it involves redefining and challenging certain internal biases of yourself and others. While the unlearning and re-wiring can be difficult, it is unique for every individual too. We run the risk of not achieving our full potential if we are not regularly evaluating our strengths and weaknesses while remaining proactive even in the face of adversity. All of this is exhausting work and can carry an even more substantial burden on people of color who deal with additional systematic stressors throughout their lives. 

When negativity takes over, it seems like there appears to be little to no change in society, school, or the workplace but in reality, change is happening. That change will not only shape history but also inspire others to keep fighting the good fight regardless of the seemingly glacial pace. This change can be in the context of gender equality, environmental initiatives, or even the next unknown movement on the brink of being a national success; the fact that it is a different focus for everyone diversifies our chances of making progress toward the greater good.

Similar to the gradual preparation in studying for a big exam, while an all-nighter might seem lucrative when the alternatives to studying are much more appealing just because it works for a classmate does not guarantee similar results on your test day. It is important to realize that college is a time to find your learning curve and maximize your time relative to what you believe in, whether or not you agree with the message behind Sandberg’s movement.

Even though “Leaning In” is rarely talked about explicitly during lecture, various organizations on campus are hubs of not only social change but also professional development for those interested in turning the conversation into action. I encourage you to not only find that organization but also find your unique contribution as a member, alum, or naturally curious individual and share it with someone. Lastly, inclusion, whether on a collegiate, corporate, social, or political scale, can be created when everyone can promote equality at any level they can influence.

Aury Cifuentes is a very bubbly senior at The College of New Jersey. As an Economics major with a concentration in Social Justice she is happily working on a capstone project, internship, and thesis this year. When she isn’t studying, Aury is actively participating in the community through the Bonner Service program and working closely with her E-Board as president of Women in Business this year.

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Tips for Networking

By Megha Karthikeyan

March 27, 2018

Business students have heard the buzz word “networking” plenty of times, but many don’t realize the significant role it plays in recruiting and getting internships. Big banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, and Barclays travel to college campuses all over the country and the world and host information sessions, coffee chats, and even mock interviews. Many have “discovery days” where students can visit the offices and attend workshops with recruiters. A lot of this information is given at networking events, making them very important. It can be confusing to figure out what events to go to since college students are very busy, but if you have the time, it is beneficial to attend as many events as possible. There are ways to maximize your time at networking events which I’ve broken down below. 

Information Sessions

Information sessions can be hectic because there can be tons of students with a few recruiters. Usually recruiters will have a panel or presentation that discusses the company and different job functions with people giving their personal anecdotes of how they got to the company and why it was the best fit for them. This is the time to write down the names of the people whom you’re interested in talking to, along with some basic content that they said. If there are multiple panelists, it can get confusing to figure out which person said what, so bringing a notebook can be very helpful. 

After the presentation ends, recruiters will often talk about “discovery days” or conference programs they have that will give you greater exposure to the company. These require applications, so paying attention to deadlines and requirements is important. The recruiters may end by going over internship timelines along with how the selection process works, and then open the floor for questions. Although it is important to ask questions, in crowded events like information sessions, you may not be able to get your question in. Don’t worry if this happens! At the end of these events, there will be time to speak individually with recruiters or at least get into smaller groups to ask your questions.

When this happens, it can be stressful because everyone is vying for the attention of the recruiters and it can seem competitive. Be patient, listen to others, and feel free to chip in to any conversations others are having while being respectful and not interruptive. If you can get a few minutes of one-on-one time with a recruiter, use that time to ask any specific questions or introduce yourself. Start up a conversation to connect yourself with the recruiter, and at the end, ask for their business card. 

The key part of getting the business card is using it. Make sure to thank the recruiters you spoke with and even refer to specific points in your conversation, so they remember who you were amongst the many students that came. 

Coffee Chats

Coffee chats are by far my favorite form of networking. They are usually one-on-one with a recruiter or an analyst and you can gain so much information from a short, 20-minute conversation. When companies come to campuses, they will have sign ups for coffee chats, so sign up as soon as possible. They often have a finite number of time slots, so getting yourself time with a recruiter is important. 

I recommend bringing a copy of your resume to the coffee chat. Since this isn’t a formal interview, you can often ask the recruiter or analyst to look over your resume and ask them for any improvements or tips. It will show them that you are prepared and give you valuable insight. Since coffee chats are so personal, it is crucial that you come with questions in mind. From personal experience, these chats are driven by you, not the recruiter. They won’t have a presentation or elaborate talking points, so it is expected that you come up with good questions for them to answer. They can range from logistics questions about the application to division specific questions about company roles. 

Because this is a one-on-one conversation, making a good impression and building your connection with the recruiter is important. They will be more likely to remember you since you did a coffee chat than someone they met at an information session. However, this will only happen if you keep in touch with them after the coffee chat. Getting their business card, asking questions and getting them to put you in contact with other analysts is a good way to maximize your coffee chat connection. 

Mock Interviews/Prep

Some firms will offer interview prep sessions or even mock interviewers with recruiters. These are useful to go to because you get more insight into what interviews will be like and you get a chance to practice. If you’ve been to the information session, attended a coffee chat, and then attend the mock interview, you will be showing a greater interest in the company. Even though it is a practice interview, it is important to have some preparation done beforehand. You aren’t expected to ace the mock interview or be an expert, but showing that you are trying your best on the mock interview will send the signal that you are prepared and care about getting the internship. Some people are afraid of doing mock interviews because analysts or recruiters from the company are interviewing them and they don’t want to mess up, but these interviews are the time to get feedback and tips for improvement. As long as you try your best and seem prepared, you will come out with stronger interview skills and a greater connection with the recruiters. 

Megha Karthikeyan is from Vienna, Virginia and attends the University of Virginia. She intends to double major in Economics and Commerce at the McIntire School of Commerce with finance and information technology concentrations. Megha will graduate from UVA in 2020. She hopes to work in the finance industry as a finance or risk analyst, but is also looking at working in investment banking.

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Conferences to Make You Stand Out

By Aury Cifuentes

March 22, 2018

The College to Business Leadership and Fast Track to Finance conferences were two of the many highlights of my sophomore year. Not only was I able to reconnect with old friends but also I got to take part in an inspiring environment filled with future leaders and mentors. If you have the opportunity to attend, please take a notebook and channel those nerves into excitement as everyone at your table will be just happy to be there as you!

Location is important and for me both of these conferences took place in the city. While I did have an later exam that same afternoon for one of them, experiencing the travel and early wakeup call was like a practice session if I one day decided to work in NYC. Once I arrived check-in was a breeze and I quickly obtained my nametag with various other goodies to find my table and start the day. Our keynote speaker was only a few years older than everyone in the room and it was inspiring to hear her story as she crafted her international schooling and language competencies from abroad to land her dream job in the M&A department of Barclays. While the old saying goes practice makes perfect, there was a range of activities from an IPO Simulation and elevator pitch with your table that prepared you for the ultimate networking session at the end of both sessions.

Everyone was prepped with resumes and a cute Forté tote to try and visit every table with a range of recruiters, deans, and analysts of well known companies. With all the practice from the morning and afternoon sessions, many of us felt much more confidant to go out and ask about the range of opportunities for the upcoming summer and even potentially after graduation. Quite a few MBA programs were represented as well as a range of industries from banking to product management. The best part of each experience is that Forté does not just make the introductions but instead the foundation helps you continue the conversations with the people you meet and friends you make. All conference attendees gain access to amazing online webinars during the rest of your undergraduate career as well as the career center online posting hub and blog! Thus the all-access pass behind each conference is true to its name and opportunities continue presenting themselves to take your involvement a step further whether as a Forté campus rep, becoming a contributing writer, or even engaging in the blog posts!

        Thus, if you are presented with the opportunity to attend or know someone who would be a great fit for the conference please spread the word as the deadlines for both conferences in different cities is soon. You do not want to miss what can be one of the many highlights of your college career and you may even meet your future employer before you know it!

Aury Cifuentes is a very bubbly senior at The College of New Jersey. As an Economics major with a concentration in Social Justice she is happily working on a capstone project, internship, and thesis this year. When she isn’t studying, Aury is actively participating in the community through the Bonner Service program and working closely with her E-Board as president of Women in Business this year.

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Why Every College Student Should Volunteer

By Megha Karthikeyan

March 20, 2018

Doing community service is important, and here are my top three reasons why all college students should volunteer:

Give back to your community.

There are so many organizations that are centered around college towns that need extra help, so providing your time will go a long way. Joining volunteering based clubs is a great idea because you can pick the organization based on what need it addresses. There are so many opportunities to volunteer like tutoring young children, serving meals at soup kitchens, spending time with the elderly at nursing homes, and working at a hospital. At the University of Virginia, I volunteer for CASH, a tax preparation organization that does tax returns for free for low income individuals. Since I am interested in finance and business, this was the perfect volunteering opportunity for me because it not only combined my interests, but it helped me make a significant economic impact on the community. Getting to know the local community where your school is located through volunteering will help you understand what the culture is like outside of your college bubble and give you a chance to interact with people you would otherwise not have a chance to meet. 

Build teamwork and communication skills.

Many jobs look for teamwork and communication skills and it can be difficult to get those skills from your classes, so volunteering with a group can help with that. Putting on volunteer projects and working on an assignment can involve working with many different groups of people from the executive team, to school administrators, to other members of the club. Being able to communicate the needs of the project to all the people involved and then working together with them to implement the project can help you gain both communication and teamwork skills. Sometimes problems can come up while volunteering, so brainstorming solutions with other members of the team and helping each other out during those situations can build up teamwork skills. Additionally, interacting with different members of the community through volunteer work can open your eyes up to more perspectives and build your communication skills. 

Good resume builder.

Doing community service is a good way to build your resume because it can show your interests outside of your coursework and internships. There are also opportunities to have leadership positions in volunteer based clubs, which can be something you showcase on your resume. In behavioral interviews, interviewers can ask about activities on your resume and being able to explain how you made an impact on your community through volunteering is a great way to keep up conversation with them. In my Goldman Sachs interview this past October, I talked about my experience as a volunteer tax preparer and what impact I made in the local Charlottesville community. Many companies now focus on corporate social responsibility, so showing the company that you also believe in doing good for the community will help them see you as a potential employee. 

Megha Karthikeyan is from Vienna, Virginia and attends the University of Virginia. She intends to double major in Economics and Commerce at the McIntire School of Commerce with finance and information technology concentrations. Megha will graduate from UVA in 2020. She hopes to work in the finance industry as a finance or risk analyst, but is also looking at working in investment banking.

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Internship Dos and Don’ts

By Casey Tsamis

March 15, 2018

Internships can be the greatest experience of your life and expose you to some amazing experiences in the real world. It’s great to have at least one internship before graduating, and
even better if you’ve had a couple more. Here is a full list of do’s and don’ts, from starting an internship to finishing it.

Do: Apply to a bunch

You have nothing to lose by applying to several internships. It’s good practice to send out a résumé and cover letter anyway.

Don’t: Try to get a paid internship as your first one

Look for experience first before money. That experience will eventually lead you to paid internships, and you’ll thank yourself for taking an unpaid internship.

Do: Ask questions during the interview

Ask what a typical day is like or what the dress code is. You want to seem interested in the job and ask important questions to your future supervisor. No question is a dumb question, either.

Don’t: Expect a virtual internship to be easy

Just because you can work remotely from your laptop doesn’t mean it will be an easy job. Make sure you give 100 percent to this and really plan your day to working on your assignments for the week.

Do: Tell your supervisor if you can’t get to something right away

If you received three different tasks you have to finish before lunch, and a different department asks for your help, it’s okay to tell them that you’re working on a couple other things, but can do it right after lunch. It’s better to communicate with people instead of promising something that you’re not sure will be done.

Don’t: Show up late

Especially in small offices, everyone will be able to tell if you come in late. If you know you’ll be a couple minutes behind, send an email and let them know you’ll be there as soon as possible.

Do: Stay connected once the internship is over

Keep in touch with people from the office once the internship ends, because you can use them as a reference once you start applying for jobs.

Don’t: Leave the internship without a thank you note

Buy a card for your supervisor and leave them a handwritten message on the card thanking them for their time and the wonderful experience you had. Also feel free to throw in a small gift if you’d like.

Casey Tsamis is a senior journalism student at Emerson College in Boston, MA. She is a Division III athlete as well as the Vice President of her sorority, Xi Gamma Nu. Casey spends her free time exploring the latest fashion and beauty trends, and her dream job is to work at Too Faced.

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Women in Crypto

By Aury Cifuentes

March 13, 2018

Cryptocurrency is considered revolutionary because it is a peer-to-peer network reliant on blockchain technology without a central governing authority. Besides its host of algorithms and ongoing debates about its merit as an asset class, the representative symbiosis between finance and technology is not going anywhere. Learning about crypto is also becoming increasing social as media giants like GirlBoss, started by Sophia Amoruso, have regularly published resources for women of all backgrounds to get involved either online or in person. 

Early last year, I kept hearing about crypto and how the speculation surrounding the hype was newsworthy. Although I did not jump on the bandwagon of crypto investing, I did invest some time with to a range of academic databases to start demystifying the headlines in the hopes of finding facts over bias. This research also overlapped with one of my other courses so I was not disappointed with what I found. In fact I was able to trace the original Bitcoin research piece published by a yet-to-be identified individual by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Depending on your interests the article, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, has something for everyone as there is an emphasis on the mechanics, financial implications, and C commands behind any transaction. Needless to say there is a fixed amount of Bitcoin to be mined and the nuances of a fixed supply have a range of implications beyond the scope of this article.

Yet many women are already exploring those complex implications of a currency that did not seem feasible centuries ago. As college students were are constantly learning and becoming subject matter experts on anything including crypto is definitely possible. While there are many unknowns in a new industry, the benefit will go toward the pioneers who are trying to be one step ahead in thinking of the regulatory, entrepreneurial, and computational ventures within such a space. For example, Perianne Boring is an adjunct professor of Blockchain at Georgetown. She is also the founder of the Digital Chamber of Commerce in DC, which is focused on moving beyond the regulatory implications for business. For those in the area and interested, that could be a great place to start as well as the growing online groups on Facebook such as Ladies of Crypto. Another notable pioneering woman can include the online news hub co-founder Toni Lane Casserly. Before establishing CoinTelegraph, Toni had a vision to revolutionize regular financial journalism into a niche-reporting segment – cryptocurrency journalism. So whether it is in the media, financial service industry, or the tech space, women are changing the dynamic in a unique fashion that can benefit the relatively young and growing Digital Currency and Blockchain industry. 

The future for blockchain, barring from imminent regulations, has the potential to redefine relatively ancient industries like the media and music industries while changing the scope of social entrepreneurship ventures and technology among other things. All in all, whether you see yourself leading the next big ICO for your start-up or just adding a bit of background on the hype over brunch the future of finance is redefined everyday. 

Aury Cifuentes is a very bubbly senior at The College of New Jersey. As an Economics major with a concentration in Social Justice she is happily working on a capstone project, internship, and thesis this year. When she isn’t studying, Aury is actively participating in the community through the Bonner Service program and working closely with her E-Board as president of Women in Business this year.

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