Alumna Chat: Liz Clark

Name: Liz Clark

Hometown: Greenville, NY (40 minutes south, near the Catskill Mountains)

Major: Actuarial Science

Graduation Year: 2011

Current Job Title: Underwriter at First Niagara Bank

Favorite Movie: Forrest Gump

Favorite Musician: Carrie Underwood

Best food from Saga: Chicken tenders!

Her Campus Siena: Where did you live while at Siena?

Liz Clark: Hennepin my junior year and then my senior year in Cushing Village.

HC Siena: Why did you choose to come to Siena?

Liz: I did my junior and senior year here after going to community college. I heard a lot of great things about it and I had a lot of friends who went here. It’s about an hour away from where I grew up, so I could go home if I wanted. And they had an Actuarial Science program, which is probably one of the main things.

HC Siena: What is your favorite memory from your time at Siena?

Liz: Senior year I met a really great group of girls that I was up in the townhouses with. Siena Fest was okay - I think it rained that year, for our Siena Fest. Graduation was great too! All the anticipation that was leading up to it. Everyone’s really nervous and you’re really sad that you’re leaving. At the same time, you’ve been in school since you were six and you’re finally done - unless you go on and get your Master’s. It’s all you’ve worked for and you finally get your piece of paper, thank God.

HC Siena: Why did you choose your major and your job?

Liz: I graduated oddly. I actually did it in December of 2011. When I transferred over, not all of my credits came in. I had to walk in 2012. I got a job at First Niagara in February, so two months after I graduated. I’ve been there ever since - so three years.

I had an internship with them that started in May of 2011 that continued into the fall. They scooted me around a lot to the different branches. I didn’t even know that corporate banking existed; when I thought of banks, I thought of branches. It was a real eye-opener. They sent me to the underwriting area for business banking. Now I’m in real estate. We underwrite apartment complexes and stuff like that. Business banking is more businesses. That was what I loved the most. They had me in the call center for a couple of days - that was awful! The underwriting I liked - it was more me with math.

HC Siena: Describe a day in the life of Liz Clark.

Liz: I have a house with my boyfriend in Colonie. We just got that in the fall. We have two kittens. We just adopted them, so they’re quite a bit of work.The house is a lot of work and we’re still getting used to it. During the week, I’m in work eight to five. Sometimes in our busy seasons - from September to January - I’ll stay about an hour later. At work, I work on new deals as they come in if someone needs a loan. I work on our annual review for existing people that are with us. Every year we just have to check to make sure that they can pay us back.

I’m also on the EVC - the Employer Volunteer Council - at First Niagara. We get volunteers for First Niagara-sponsored events. I’m the president of that, so I help coordinate it and dole out responsibilities, get volunteers for things.Initially, I became a member of the board. Then, the lady who was the president was like, ‘Do you want to try it and  take over?’ and I said yes, and I’ve been doing that for almost two years.

Every other week I also go and read to a little girl over at Arbor Hill. It’s for Power Lunch Reading. She’s a little second grader. It gets me out of the office.

HC Siena: What exactly is an underwriter? I’m not super familiar with the position.

Liz: Not a lot of people are! It’s kind of hard to explain, but think of it as a credit or a loan analyst.

HC Siena: What are your plans for the future? Do you want to stick with First Niagara or do something else?

Liz: I’d like to stick with them. I just want to learn as much as I can, and I’m fine with moving around departments. There’s so many different positions. They said they’d let me know if I need to go to grad school.

HC Siena: What is your advice for our students who will be heading out into the job market in the next couple of years?

Liz: Internships help a lot! You want to try and figure out what you want to do, and make sure that you at least semi-like it. I also wish I did more volunteer stuff here.