Umme-Ayman Badat is currently a senior at Rutgers Business School majoring in Leadership & Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. She previously interned as an Equity Research Analyst at Polen Capital and plans to graduate a year early before starting her Investment Banking Internship at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the summer of 2022. She further hopes to return there full-time to kickstart her career on Wall Street. Umme is currently a Junior Mentor for GenUnion, where she will help students of all backgrounds break into Investment Banking.
Pranay: Hi Umme, welcome!
Adam: Thank you for doing this, excited to hear your story!
Umme: Hi, thank you for having me!
Adam: Talking about upbringing, what values have you taken from your years of growth?
Umme: Growing up, I didn't have a strong support system. I was fortunate enough to be healthy and have a place to live, but from every other aspect, I was pretty much the only one there for myself all day every day. As the years progressed and I grew older, I started to realize how important it is to build a strong support system for myself and surround myself with those who had my best interests at heart. Granted, it took me a while even after that to define "interests" as personal and not just professional. But at the end of the day, once I started to trust myself more and trust others more, it didn't take long for me to understand the value of being in an environment where I would constantly have opportunities to grow and develop. In my eyes, success comes from believing in yourself first, then putting yourself in an environment where you can apply your potential in the most effective ways, and finally taking necessary risks to accelerate that growth.
Pranay: When I was in 8th grade living in India, I realized that whenever I would hail a cab or rickshaw, I would get ripped off because I'd speak Hindi in an American accent. It forced my hand into learning to negotiate, and opened me up to the world of auctions and bidding processes. What was your journey of finding your interest like, and what did it take to get from that foundation to obtaining that summer internship?
Umme: As a freshman, I used to work as an Associate Banker at Chase and I was the only woman working there. Our branch stayed open all throughout COVID, and seeing so many people come in from underrepresented backgrounds made me feel like I was really helping them get through such a stressful time. It made me curious to learn more about how bigger businesses were dealing with COVID, and even though I had absolutely no foundation or network relating to finance, I took it upon myself to start building that foundation through as many opportunities as I could find in and out of school, and by talking to as many people as I could reach. It may seem like an easy journey, but it took so much out of me to take that first step after a rough first semester. Taking that first step, however, was the best decision I made for myself, considering my drive to succeed, no matter what I had to balance to achieve my goals, is what got me my offer in the end.
Pranay: I like how you say that it only "seems" like an easy journey. Success is always celebrated, but the road to success is often riddled with failure, setback, and embarrassment that we tend to keep to ourselves. I can't even count the number of times I said or done something I shouldn't have, and disappointed people who were counting on me. Sometimes, extenuating circumstances stopped me from performing at my best. Have you ever had one of those experiences, and how did you dust yourself off after that?
Umme: This question made me laugh because my entire college journey has essentially been an extenuating circumstance. Working 25-30 hours a week, while attending school full-time with every semester being over 15 credits (including summer classes and internships), along with deliverables for so many other programs I'm in and recruiting at the same time, which included taking 3-4 networking calls per day for a year straight, really wasn't the hard part. The hard part was balancing that with the environment I was in during COVID. As I mentioned before, being my own support system for so long wasn't easy, and while my strong sense of independence and self-efficacy carried me through a big chunk of my recruiting process, I often dealt with many family-related hardships, and that weighed on me even more considering I didn't allow anything to get in the way of sustaining my busy schedule. This meant sacrificing my mental health, and until I really started to talk to people like Adam about things other than my professional goals, I didn't value having a good balance between my professional goals and my emotional well-being.
Adam: Thanks for the shoutout, it was great learning more about you over time! Emotional well being has, in my opinion, led to a greater conversation on impact as a whole. Impact has taken a larger than life spotlight over the last year, with everyone having their own idea of how to make the world a better place. What kind of impact do you wish to create for the world, and what is your plan to make it happen?
Umme: I think everyone changes the world in their own way. We often don't understand the extent of just how beneficial small favors we do for others can be. My plan is to do just that: help out others in small, buildable ways, so we can all further the beneficial impacts we have on each other together. It seems vague, I know, but that's because I keep myself open to helping out in any way I can. From a larger level once I get to a more senior position professionally, I plan to help those who come from underrepresented backgrounds learn about finance, and to also help them understand their own potential through a more formal, tailored support system.
Pranay: Love to hear about you paying it forward. Is there anything else you are passionate about that you want to share with the world?
Umme: There are so many things I am passionate about, and I want to share them all with the world. If there is one thing I'd say to the world in reference to my own life so far and my recruiting journey, I'd mention the importance of having a mindset of growth. It's so easy to get caught up in emotions when you get rejected, but if all you want to do at the end of the day is learn something and grow from it, then every single experience you have regardless of how it feels in the moment will be an opportunity to grow. Being open and passionate, having a sense of extreme ownership, and strongly believing in delayed gratitude is what will get you through the bad parts, and what will bring more of the good parts to your life. Don't be afraid to act on your curiosity.
Adam: Thank you so much for the time Umme, it was great having you.
Pranay: I would personally love to take editing this interview as an opportunity to grow my terrible writing skills! Thanks for the support.
Umme: Have a good one guys!