BY KATHERINE HOSELTON
A group of 20 students from SAIS Europe recently returned from the annual career trek in Geneva, Switzerland, where they met with 10 different international and non-governmental organizations in the sphere of humanitarian affairs. The trip’s purpose was to meet with representatives from organizations that students are interested in working for, in order to gain insight into the type of work these groups actually do and see what it is like to live and work in Geneva. However, Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world, with a Starbucks latte setting you back eight euros, and many students worried about the financial toll of the trip. Thanks to the generosity of Geneva-based SAIS alum Brian Ruszczyk, SAIS’s lucky group of students were housed throughout the city by Ruszczyk and his friends, providing an affordable and enriching experience. I was lucky enough to chat with Brian about living in Geneva, working in wealth management and why he loves SAIS.
Ruszczyk studied Latin American studies and Portuguese at SAIS Bologna 91’ and DC 92’. After graduating, Ruszczyk started working for Chase Bank in New York City, but was soon relocated to Mexico. He then moved on to live in both Chile and Brazil where he worked for various banks and investment groups in wealth management, including JP Morgan-Chase and the Commission Economic Para America Latina (CEPAL). In 2010 he was transferred to Geneva, where he manages a hedge fund.
When Brian found out that SAIS students made an annual trek to his beautiful yet pricey city, he insisted on doing what he could to help out. This was the second year that Ruszczyk arranged housing for all of the SAIS students on the trek, accommodating them in his own house and with close friends of his in Geneva. This year, Ruszczyk and his wife took in eight students for the three-day trip in their spacious house just over French border. On the last night of the career trek, Ruszczyk and his wife hosted a reception at their home where all students, host families, and other SAIS alumni living in Geneva were able to reflect on the inspiring past few days, and swap SAIS stories over a glasses of French wine.
Ruszczyk is so eager to help out SAIS students because he was once a student too with financial stressors, but also because he truly believes in the potential of SAIS students. Ruszczyk notes that he uses the concepts he learned in Monetary Policy, Macroeconomics, and Corporate Finance on a daily basis in his career as a trader. Throughout his career as a trader, Ruszczyk has found that SAIS’s combination of economic coursework, geopolitical thinking and language training provides students with a way of thinking that you simply “can’t get from a Harvard MBA.”
Ruszczyk’s biggest piece of advice for SAIS students on the hunt for jobs or summer internships, is to be thoroughly prepared for the interview process was absolutely crucial, something he believes should be practiced more by students. Ruszczyk emphasized the importance of knowing who is across the table from you, and having comprehensively researched both the company and position you are applying for before the interview. He also revealed that having a strong drive and passion for the job is the most important attribute to portray in an interview – often more important than grades. Ruszczyk also advised the Geneva SAISers to engage with the person across from you, and exude ambitious energy.
Ruszczyk personally embodies all of these characteristics; anyone who has met him will agree that his vivacious personality fills any room he walks into.
Look out for Ruszczyk at SAIS Bologna during Alumni Weekend this April, as he plans to give a presentation on the Do’s and Don’t of Interviews.