Raj Narayan's dream job is to work at the World Bank—a place where he can explore his wide-ranging interests in world affairs, technology, and business strategy. But he knew he needed the right college experience—and degree—to get there.
As a high school senior, he looked for colleges that would nurture his dual fascination with business and computer science. Many universities offered majors or minors in these subjects, but not a degree that fully integrated the two. Then Narayan visited Northeastern's D'Amore-McKim School of Business and found a perfect fit: He could pursue a combined major in both disciplines and take part in rigorous co-ops and extracurricular activities.
Now a senior ready to graduate in May, Narayan is poised for a fulfilling career. He's excelled in the classroom—earning a 3.7 GPA—and completed co-ops at the prestigious finance firms State Street Global Advisors and Goldman Sachs. He's also participated in a long list of extracurriculars, including serving as president of Northeastern's Big Data Club, where he grew the membership from two dozen to 550 students from a variety of disciplines—combatting the perception that Big Data is only relevant to technical fields.
“Data influences so many different disciplines,” says Narayan, DMSB/Khoury'19. Through a combined major, he says, “I've learned how important data can be to pushing forward a business and creating change.”
It wasn't just abstract; we weren't just reading from a textbook. We were taking what we learned and applying it. That made it real.Raj Narayan, DMSB/Khoury'19
One especially eye-opening experience was “Entrepreneurial Finance,” a course taught by professor Mark Bernfeld. After hearing from several entrepreneurs who visited and spoke to the class, the students worked directly with a tech startup in Roxbury. Narayan and his team used their analytical skills to understand the numbers behind the company. “We got to learn firsthand the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur, from hiring to finding funding,” Narayan says. “It wasn't just abstract; we weren't just reading from a textbook. We were taking what we learned and applying it. That made it real.”
During co-ops, Narayan built upon what he'd learned in the classroom. In the fall of 2018, he worked in a private wealth management team at Goldman Sachs, using the data analysis skills he developed in computer science courses to spot trends, strengths, and deficiencies in specific programs. But he offered business savvy and interpersonal skills, too—not just technical expertise. For example, for one project, he helped analyze how the company conducts outreach to new and existing clients. “We had a lot of data and I could find trends, but I wanted to understand more about the programs and what [employees] were doing.” He talked to employees one-on-one to gather information and develop a set of recommendations.
“In an internship, you're working for maybe eight or 10 weeks and you're not there long enough to understand the company,” he says. “In a co-op, you're there for months and can take on more responsibility. Companies treat you differently because they know you're there for the long haul. They treat you like a full-time employee.” After graduation, Narayan plans to earn an MBA before pursuing his World Bank ambition. He says taking an interdisciplinary path has taught him to be nimble and resourceful, no matter where he lands. He's learned to communicate complex ideas and sharpened his presentation skills, worked with many different types of people, and built a resume that will set him apart. “When I work on projects in a business environment, I care about and understand the technical side, too. I have a better understanding of each project. It opens up so many opportunities.”