When Abigail Finkelberg ’22 arrived at Syracuse University in 2018, she wasn’t sure which academic path she would take, but was confident that she had landed in the right place. “I was drawn to Syracuse University because of its school spirit and unique size,” says the junior from Pleasantville, New York. “It’s big enough to offer the benefits of a large university, but small enough to feel like home, where you run into people you know every time you walk across campus.”
Finkelberg had so many different interests that it was a challenge to narrow them down to one major. She began taking classes in a variety of the University’s 12 unique schools and colleges, until a turning point came when she took IST 195 Introduction to Information Technology. This entry-level course, offered through the School of Information Studies (iSchool), provides an overview of state-of-the-art technologies like computer architecture, telecommunication networks, and software design and application. Finkelberg was captivated. “Syracuse University guided me toward the path that best suited me,” she says. “I knew then that I wanted to be part of the iSchool, majoring in information management and technology.” Finkelberg was also inspired by her business classes, so she added a minor in strategic management through the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.
Embracing a Community
Joining a sorority was another fortuitous decision Finkelberg made as a first-year student. “I wanted to become part of a community of supportive women and find my ‘home away from home,’” she says. “I’m an active member of Alpha Epsilon Phi, and I have made some of my best friends through Greek life, both within and outside of my chapter.”
The abundance of extracurricular activities available to students made it easy to find one that aligned with her academic interests. Finkelberg chose to take part in iConsult, a student-run consulting firm that provides services for enterprises in the Central New York area. “I’m interested in consulting as a potential career path, so it’s been a great experience to help make a difference for small businesses,” she says.
I was drawn to Syracuse University because of its school spirit and unique size. It’s big enough to offer the benefits of a large university, but small enough to feel like home.
Finkelberg has found iSchool faculty and staff to be especially accessible and generous in helping her build skills that enhance her academic portfolio. “IST 344 with Christopher Perrello, a public speaking class, had a big impact on me,” she recalls. “The instructor is the director of career services for the iSchool, and he’s helped me prepare for interviews and given me great advice for internships.” She later had an opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant in the class with Adjunct Professor Eric Young.
Expanding Skills and Experience
Never one to miss an opportunity for professional enrichment, Finkelberg investigated a local company she’d heard about in her iSchool classes. “Sidearm Sports builds websites for collegiate athletic departments, and I wanted to become involved in it. I was hired as a streaming support specialist, which means I answer phone calls and emails from universities and individual customers about issues they’re having while watching or accessing a game stream,” she explains. “Working there has sharpened my communication skills and taught me how to be successful in a customer-facing role. I’ve also learned a lot about streaming!”
I feel I’ll be prepared to achieve my goals not only because of the technical, data and business skills I’ve acquired through my major and minor, but also because of all the soft skills I’ve learned.
An internship at ATAPFund, an e-commerce and brand management firm, helped Finkelberg expand her content strategy skills. “I mainly did content creation and scheduling,” she says, “but I also worked on social media for a new brand and helped redesign the front end of the website.”
This summer, she hopes to explore unfamiliar turf as a developer/tech research intern at Verisk Financial, which provides data and domain expertise for businesses. “This is a really exciting opportunity for me, because it’s a much more technical role than I’ve had before, and I’ll be able to apply many of the skills I’ve learned at the iSchool,” she says. “I’ll be working in financial services and risk management, so that will tap into my Whitman minor as well.”
Setting Goals for the Future
Finkelberg says her ultimate goal for the future is a successful career in data analytics. “I feel I’ll be prepared to achieve my goals not only because of the technical, data and business skills I’ve acquired through my major and minor, but also because of all the soft skills I’ve learned. Syracuse University has so many resources to help students figure out what classes and activities they want to get involved in, and all the career and interview preparation we do at the iSchool has made me feel confident in any interview. I’ve also met Syracuse alumni through networking events and LinkedIn, and talked to them about career paths and internship opportunities.”
I want to feel like I’ve made a difference in people’s lives, personally and professionally.
As her junior year winds down, Finkelberg knows that her days at Syracuse University will become cherished memories in the years ahead. “For me, being Orange is so much more than being a student at Syracuse University. It’s a combination of the school spirit, friendships, campus life and huge, powerful alumni network. When I’m wearing Syracuse apparel, even in the most unexpected places, I’ll get a ‘Go Orange!’ as I’m walking. I think it’s all about the connection you feel as a member of the Syracuse University community.”
Finkelberg envisions a lifetime of positive impact as she contemplates a future shaped by her Syracuse University experience. “I want to be able to look back on my life when I’m old and be happy with the choices I’ve made. Working with people has always been my strength, and I want to feel like I’ve made a difference in people’s lives, personally and professionally. I hope to be able to say with confidence that I have done everything I ever wanted to do.”
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