The key to nabbing the internship? Networking.
“It was a matter of just communicating and reaching out,” said Ortega, who was introduced to a UBS senior professional by a close mentor. “Networking is super important in finance. I can’t stress how important this is.”
Ortega spent his first year at Fordham not only in the classroom but also online, reaching out to industry experts for career advice. He set up chats over coffee and meetings over Zoom, often taking note of the “small things” that could deepen a connection. One meeting led to his internship at UBS. Another meeting, with a senior banking professional outside of UBS, led to a new mentorship, said Ortega.
“I connected with him to learn more about his role and past experiences across his career. The meeting was over Zoom, and the conversation was flowing fairly well until I noticed that he had a New York Giants banner on his wall. This sparked a conversation because I’m a New England Patriots fan, and the idea is that we are meant to be rivals. However, as a result of that small, personal interaction that may have seemed meaningless, he has decided to coach and mentor me individually as I continue to grow as a young professional. It just goes on to show that the small details matter more than you think,” Ortega said. “Be a good listener, learn how to talk, and be OK with feeling uncomfortable while networking.”
Paving the Way for Future Generations of Hispanics
Ortega is originally from Corona, Queens. He was raised by a single mother who raised four boys on her own. His mother, a Mexican immigrant who works as a hairstylist and part-time bookkeeper, sacrificed her dream of becoming a biomedical engineer in order to support Ortega and his brothers. “Her support, love, and sacrifices fuel me to succeed in my endeavors and passions,” Ortega said.
Her work paid off. Ortega earned admission to several schools, including Emory University and Boston College. He chose to attend Fordham and its Lincoln Center campus, where he earned the National Hispanic Recognition Scholarship and would be able to live closer to home.
At UBS, Ortega is learning finance basics, professional etiquette, and technical skills. He is unusually young for a finance intern. His fellow interns are mostly college upperclassmen, but that doesn’t deter him. “It’s a good time to learn. The earlier you start, the better,” he said.
Ortega’s long-term goal is to join a venture capital firm that invests only in Hispanic start-ups. He wants to change a statistic: just 2% of U.S. venture capital investments go towards Latino entrepreneurs, who made up nearly half of the net new small business growth between 2007 and 2017.
“The venture capital community is very close-knit and exclusive to certain people,” he said. “My goal is to hack into that field and pave the way for Hispanic generations to come.”