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Alumni Arcs: Stephanie Zhong

Stephanie Zhong

Dec. 2016 B.S.

Major: Economics

Minor: Statistics

Stephanie Zhong

Senior Financial Analyst, Global Data Analytics—Arthur J. Gallagher and Co., Chicago, IL REMOTE

What is her background like? Being the daughter of first-generation immigrants from Taiwan and China, Stephanie spoke Mandarin as her first language. She was shy in school but has grown more confident about expressing herself. She loves to cook, garden, and spend time outdoors.

Why did she choose to study economics? Stephanie took an economics class in high school and saw its relationship to history (which she loved!). She had strong math skills and wanted to use them “as a means to an end” to analyze, understand, and learn from human behavior.

Did Stephanie participate in an internship? Yes. She had a Legal Assistant Internship at Manley, Deas, Kochalski, LLC, and she worked as an Accounting Assistant at a property management company.

What was the hardest interview and work experience she has had since graduation? Stephanie’s internship ended when she graduated, but she hadn’t yet received any job offers. This was difficult for her, and she struggled with sharing her experience with those close to her. In addition, she couldn’t find work in data analytics, her “dream job.” After 3 months of only rejections, she finally accepted an entry level role in operational finance. 

How long has she been with her current employer and what does she do? She recently accepted a position as Senior Financial Analyst at Gallagher on their Global Data Analytics Team after having worked at L Brands and Nationwide for several years. She “thoroughly enjoyed” moving from “data reporting” (following company requirements, doing repetitive work, analyzing research driven by regulations) to “data analytics” (choices about topics and directions of research, collaborating with others, asking her own questions, having an impact on the business) and finds her job “incredibly rewarding.”

What are Stephanie’s career goals? Stephanie doesn’t focus much on setting long-term career goals right now. It has been more beneficial for her professional development to set short-term goals (within 1 year) for learning that add to her skill set and open new work opportunities.

Parting Thoughts: Spend more time in college finding out about yourself and enjoying the process of learning and experiencing new things…”Comparison is the thief of joy.” Don’t waste time comparing yourself to other people and trying to be like them (especially what seems “perfect” — perfect job, perfect clothes, perfect talents, perfect income)…Carefully choose good mentors who will “advocate for you, do the best for you, and support your growth”…In your career, timing in important. Pay attention to when promotions arise, when you can request to have your responsibilities revised, and when it’s advantageous to move to a new team or department.


*Internship: this taught her to communicate on a professional level, to work on teams, to prioritize tasks, and to competently work with others from different cultures and generations.

*Econometrics: those courses “translated to work very well, used multiple variables and math, and also applied to real-world data.”

*”R” Software: this was “incredibly helpful in working with data sets.”

*Other useful software: learned business intelligence software like MicroStrategy and data visualization through Excel and Tableau.