by StreetWise Partners
August 28th, 2023
Krystal Lian grew up in a Chinese-speaking community in Brooklyn and has been exposed to a predominantly Chinese-speaking environment. Chinese was the language she spoke at home, and she is a first-generation college student.
While attending Baruch College (part of the CUNY system), Krystal took on a part-time job at the A+ Academy learning center, where she also communicated in Chinese. Although she could speak and comprehend English, Krystal still lacked the confidence to use it fluently.
Over the last three years, that’s shifted. Krystal has taken advantage of one opportunity after another to build her communication skills and launch her career. Here’s a look at her journey so far.
The catalyst: StreetWise Mentor Program
In the summer of 2021, as a rising junior at Baruch College, Krystal was intrigued when she heard a speaker talk about someone getting an internship thanks to StreetWise. She researched the program, applied, and was accepted.
“I’m so thankful I joined StreetWise,” says Krystal. “I was introverted, very shy, and didn’t know how to communicate very well, so it was really eye-opening to learn how people speak in the professional world.”
With the support of StreetWise, Krystal learned how to communicate in different settings, prepare for interviews, and network — all of which served as a foundation of skills and confidence that she would build on over time.
Ongoing career support: StreetWise Employment Services
After graduating from the mentorship program in 2021, Krystal continued to work with the StreetWise Employment Services team, which helps graduates find internships and full-time jobs.
“The team is always sending out information about great events and if time allows, I say yes,” Krystal explains. “It’s a great chance to network with professionals and keep practicing communicating in a business setting.”
In addition to attending events, Krystal networked with StreetWise volunteers and actively applied for internships.
Next stop: Wall Street
In 2022, Krystal landed an internship doing data analytics for Trillium Asset Management. The opportunity came through StreetWise and the Wall Street Diversity Accelerator Program (WSDA), a group of 20+ elite Wall Street firms that hire summer interns from diverse backgrounds.
At Trillium, Krystal was able to learn about ESG and keep working on her communication and presentation skills. She even had the opportunity to present her findings to the global equity team, including senior leaders.
During this time, Krystal continued to participate in extracurricular clubs at college and remained engaged with StreetWise Employment Services. She was always looking ahead and thinking about what roles to apply for next.
Another breakthrough opportunity: Blackstone
WSDA played a pivotal role in Krystal’s professional growth and helped her obtain her next opportunity. In the summer of 2023, she joined the Blackstone LaunchPad Summer Analyst Program, working in data analytics for the company’s Career Pathways team. In the final week of her internship, she presented to the entire talent team.
Working at Blackstone was a turning point for Krystal. Her previous experiences, like the Trillium internship, were remote — even though the work and meetings were in English, she was still at home, surrounded by Chinese. Blackstone was her first in-person role and the first time she was fully exposed to English in a professional setting.
“Everyone was so nice, willing to talk to me, teach me new skills, and help me network,” she says. “It felt like home.”
What’s next: more opportunities, more growth
Krystal originally intended to major in digital marketing, but after taking an introductory course in Finance, she switched her major and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) in Finance. But her internships reignited her interest in marketing and she’s now exploring career opportunities at the intersection of both digital marketing and finance.
Krystal is preparing for the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) introductory-level finance exam and also taking online courses in digital marketing through the New York Jobs CEO Council. As a CUNY student, she is able to get free access to Google Career Certificate courses to help her land future jobs or internships with New York City employers.
Krystal sees a future of more opportunities ahead. “Everything sounds really interesting at this point,” she says, “and I want to take risks, get out of my comfort zone, and try different fields to see what sparks my interest the most.”
Being open to different options has served her well. While she has been rejected for certain roles, there have always been one or two programs that accepted her. “I’m always seeking ways to improve myself,” says Krystal. “Every opportunity helps build my confidence and shapes my professional and personal development.”