Cara Patrick, valedictorian of Southeastern's class of 2005, has never been satisfied with being good at one thing.
Patrick, a native of Macomb, Michigan, graduated from Southeastern in 2005 with degrees in finance, accounting, and management information systems. She planned to major in finance, but the courses the finance and accounting majors share led her major in both disciplines. Patrick also majored in Management Information Systems for versatility, knowing that computer skills were crucial in many fields, including finance and accounting.
After graduation from Southeastern, Patrick started a Monster.com job search for financial systems analyst positions. Her search led her to a Federal Reserve quality assurance analyst opening in January 2006. After a six-month application and interview process, the Fed hired her. Her bosses were pleased with the breadth of training Southeastern gave her. "They told me they were very impressed with my resume," said Patrick.
As a quality assurance analyst in Washington D.C., Patrick acts as a liaison between the Fed and its clients by confirming that the computer programs the Reserve builds are suitable for the client's needs and requirements.
Since many of the Reserve's clients are banks and other financial institutions, knowledge of finance and accounting is a key part of succeeding in Patrick's position. Also, as part of the Fed's information technology department, Patrick works with programmers on a daily basis. Through personal interaction with professors and pertinent classroom training, Southeastern gave her the wide base of education she needed to be successful in a highly technical, multi-faceted work environment.
Patrick found that her professors played a significant role in her preparation for the workforce. She liked how her business professors had real-world experience in the types of jobs she wanted. They also took a personal interest in her success. Professor of Finance Dr. Lyle Bowlin started a study group for students interested in taking the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam. The exam certifies students to work in a variety of financial planning and analysis occupations. Patrick remembers how Dr. Bowlin met with the group weekly and gave them a study regimen.
A Southeastern management information systems professor brought her by his office one afternoon to give her a look at a new version of the database-specific programming language, SQL. Patrick's awareness of the new software expanded her knowledge and prepared her further for the database-specific work she'd do at the Reserve.
Patrick also received valuable training in her Financial Institutions class. In the class, she learned how the Federal Reserve creates economic policies for banks and other financial institutions. Her general training in this area helps her see beyond her position as a quality assurance analyst and into the big picture of what the Fed does and why.
A databases class taught Patrick the basics of the Microsoft database program Access. The experience proved handy during a recent project in which her team was using a spreadseet program to track the project. Patrick suggested they switch to Access, which, based on her experience with the software at Southeastern, was a better fit for the project. The team made the switch, and her suggestion has since proven to be very valuable to the success of the project.
Though Patrick's position at the Fed does not require her to do any computer programming, the information she learned in a programming class at Southeastern helps her relate to employees in other departments. She attends weekly programmers' meetings and, because of her training at Southeastern, is able to ask intelligent questions about "coding," the computer language building blocks of databases and Web pages. Her knowledge in the area has gained the respect of her coworkers.
The personal interaction with professors and the relevant professional training she received in the classroom at Southeastern prepared Patrick to be a multi-skilled, knowledgeable, and competent quality assurance analyst at the Federal Reserve. "The more I know," said Patrick, "the more I can do."