January 27, 2017
International student Iryna Kovtoniuk had her first taste of being away from her native land of Ukraine as an exchange student living in Arkansas during her junior year of high school. Today, as a senior finance major at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics, she has been captivated by her experiences on campus and is continuing to take full advantage of what life has to offer.
On the brink of graduation, Kovtoniuk reflects upon her time at WVU: traveling, interning and being as involved as possible.
- As a finance major, you have an emphasis in corporate business and investments. Why are you interested in those areas? I feel like operational finance is more on the accounting side. Things are black and white. It is how it is, and that’s how you take it. That’s all. With corporate, and especially with investments, it’s more of an analytical side, more prediction. It’s kind of the thrill of using all the analysis and all the available information to figure out what’s going to happen, but you never know exactly. So, that’s kind of the excitement of the profession.
- You are very involved on campus and at B&E. Please describe your experience as a B&E Student Ambassador. It is my second year as an ambassador. It helps me interact with students, and my favorite parts are the Discover WVU days when you get to see the incoming freshmen who haven’t made their decision yet or are kind of in between, and you get to share that student experience with them. I kind of wish I had more of that when I was choosing my college. It’s very valuable, and it does help students. But for me personally, I just like the interaction with high school seniors when they’re making their decision.
- Why do you find it important to be involved in the WVU International Student Organization? Describe that experience. This was the first organization I ever joined. I joined on day one of college, and I never left. First year, I was just a member, and then the second year I was the secretary. In my junior year, I was the president. Now, I’m the treasurer because I didn’t want to leave just yet. I still felt like I had some work to do. A lot of the organization is about cultural bonding and cultural exchange. Most of the students who come to our events are exchange students. They are only here for a semester or two, and they are looking for friends. They are looking to somebody who will really understand what they are going through. For me personally, members of the organization really helped me adjust to being here. So, it was a goal for me. Somebody helped me. Now, I want to help somebody else the way I was helped.
- What did you take away from your summer internship at J.P. Morgan? I was a corporate summer analyst in Columbus, Ohio. It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. It was challenging because it was a whole new professional environment and a whole new set of people and responsibilities, and I learned so much. I learned a lot about what it’s like to be in business, what it’s like to be in the office, what it’s like to do the job. It wasn’t so much of the finance side. It was the corporate side, but closer to the operations side, so not quite like what I study in college, which made it even better. It was a whole different set of skills I developed.
- How has B&E prepared you for your upcoming career? The College of Business and Economics provided me with some wonderful opportunities. We have incredible faculty and staff, who genuinely care about students. I was able to gain valuable knowledge from first-class professors, and develop a skill set that I will be able to apply in a modern-day competitive business environment. If I could say one thing about my experience at B&E, it would be that I am truly thankful to be earning a degree from a college that offers first class education and incredible opportunities for its students.
- What is a good piece of advice you would give to an international student interested in coming to WVU and being so far away from home? One of the biggest things to remember is to keep an open mind. I know there are definitely a lot of differences in terms of educational system and in terms of culture. For me, it probably wasn’t as drastic a change because I had my host family from when I was an exchange student, but for most international students it is a huge adjustment. There is one quote I remember from my exchange program that captivated me – ‘The person standing right next to you is not better, not worse, just different.’ That really helped me. So, ask for help if you need it. Get involved. Those are the things that I did, and they work. You have two options. You can either go to your room, never speak to anyone, just cry and be miserable. Or you can take a step or two out of your comfort zone and just go for it. That’s what you’re here for.