Shanise Buford began preparing for her career with McKinsey and Company before her freshman year of college through her participation in the Dr. Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program (BOP) Summer Session, the rigorous eight-week introductory course that coincides with summer school.
“I came to Purdue because of the success and rich history of the Business Opportunity Program,” Buford, a senior majoring in finance with a concentration in data analytics, says. “I saw how close BOP students were and I wanted to feel the same support and encouragement. I also knew that the vast network of affluent individuals and top companies in connection to the program, alongside the immediate access to successful upperclassmen, would allow me to ‘dream bigger’ and attain goals larger than I initially expected myself to accomplish in college.”
BOP continued to enhance Buford’s academic and career pursuits during her time at Purdue. “I believe that when you find people who think and work like you, it creates an invaluable bond,” she says. “Navigating academics, internships, and college life can be overwhelming, but in BOP, everyone is always pushing each other to do better, reach for their goals, and advocate for themselves. It is an environment rooted in growth and success.”
Buford chose her major to ensure her success in the business world. “A finance degree can lead to a diverse set of career paths and many different opportunities for career mobility,” she says. “I felt that it would allow me to leverage my strong mathematical and analytical skills to solve business problems and improve companies. In business, the bottom line is everything, so I can have an impact upon entering any job because I understand how to handle money and determine profitability.”
Buford added a concentration in data analytics to align herself with a business world that is increasingly integrated with technology. “My data analytics concentration strikes a great balance between a challenging curriculum and investing my time into learning skills that are highly valued by employers,” she says. “The knowledge that I am gaining through this concentration is highly transferable to the future.”
Internships have also been a compass for Buford’s ongoing career journey, beginning with a summer 2020 internship with Plante Moran followed by an internship with Bank of America in 2021. She capped off her internship experience with JPMorgan Chase in 2022.
“With each new internship, I was able to get a clearer idea of the role that I wanted to land post-graduation,” she says. “When I signed my full-time job offer, I did so without a doubt in my head because I knew that the insights from each of the experiences led to the right role for me.”
Another key to Buford’s success has been her participation in case competitions. “These experiences taught me how to produce quality work under a time constraint, make real-world applications to the concepts I’ve seen in the classroom, work efficiently with teams, and refine my presentation skills,” she says. “Case competitions directly mirror what is required in internships and full-time jobs.”
Today, Buford is using those experiences to prepare her for a role as a business analyst with the global consulting firm McKinsey and Company in Dallas, Texas. “The School of Management has great resources that students can use to customize their academic experience and shape their career interests,” she says. “I am confident that post-graduation, I will have a lifelong support system that will help me navigate my professional journey.”