In three years at NYU, Laura De Crescenzo has studied for a year at NYU Shanghai, explored law with Mock Trial, and interned at the White House. Now as a senior, she has accepted a job with Goldman Sachs. A range of experiences is precisely what she sought in selecting Global Liberal Studies as a major, with each of her undergraduate pursuits propelling her towards her future.
Why did you choose GLS as a major?
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area but spent middle school in Singapore, where I learned the value of engaging deeply with a culture other than your own. It was also when I first learned Chinese and traveled to China; I knew I wanted to go back to China during college. GLS offered an unparalleled opportunity to gain both regional expertise, by spending a year abroad, and functional expertise, by pursuing studies in a concentration. Moreover, this degree has enabled me to pursue my varied interests -- from politics, to law, to business -- in a way the more functionally specific majors don't. The undergraduate years are the best time to first gain as much exposure as you can to a variety of fields and then narrow your scope.
How did your junior year in Shanghai shape your goals?
Studying in Shanghai was an incredible experience, made especially great by the staff and faculty at NYU Shanghai. I was able to hone as well as expand my professional interests. I had the opportunity to complete coursework in business and law, which helped prepare me for my work in finance. Yet the opportunity to learn and pursue passions beyond my chosen courses was a particular highlight; I discovered many of these opportunities to enrich my academic experience through the NYU Shanghai Program on Creativity + Innovation.
What led you to an internship at the White House?
I had an interest in law and politics entering NYU, so I wanted to gain experience working in that field early. Having interned on Capitol Hill as a Congressional intern after my first year at NYU, I connected with a GLS alumnus who had been a White House intern and decided to apply to the White House Internship Program. Although it meant completing my Approaches coursework with independent study, I joined the First Lady’s Office in the White House in spring of 2015.
What would people be surprised to know about working in the White House?
The White House a fast-paced work environment, but it's also very friendly. Senior staffers would say hello, ask how the internship program was going, and were interested to hear about our experience as interns.
What did you learn through interning in the White House?
The White House internship was the nucleus of all the things I had been studying. Although I was interested in politics and law, some of the best moments I had as an intern were times when I was able to creatively solve a problem and gain new skills in the process. I realized that a field where I could see more projects through from start to finish and further diversify my skill set, such as the private sector, would be the next step for me. Besides equipping me with the skills to apply to my next role, working at the White House was extremely fulfilling, and the people I worked with there continue to inspire me.
What has GLS taught you that a degree in politics or finance, for instance, would not have?
The GLS curriculum enables you to remove yourself from the center of a topic of study in a valuable way. You take a broad view of systems. When faced with a problem or challenge, I'm trained to approach it from a variety of angles and contextualize it. I've found this helps me produce more comprehensive work and thorough analysis, regardless of subject matter.
What skills will you take from GLS into the workplace?
One skill would be taking ownership over your work. From very early in your studies, you have to think carefully about what your story will be and how you’ll tell it. I got the sense from my GLS peers that people were getting a lot of experiences early on. If we were interested in something, we were advised not just to take a class in it but to pursue it for a summer!
Do you have any advice for other students trying to balance interning, academics, and everything else NYU has to offer?
First, work with a sense of urgency. You will train yourself to work more efficiently and better prioritize tasks. Second, be selective with how you spend your time. This applies to mentors, friends, classes, extracurricular activities -- everything. It's easy to be swayed by quantity over quality, and I certainly made the mistake of attempting to do too much early on. But once I began to choose more carefully it decreased my stress, and my schedule became more manageable, too. So I'd encourage students to think carefully about what gives you fulfillment and is really important to you.