Prash Rasaiah graduated in 2010 with a double major in Criminology and Political Science and a minor in Economics. He is currently a Director of Market Development at MasterCard Canada.
Prash chose Woodsworth College for its diverse community and proximity to the Criminology & Sociolegals Studies program. As an undergraduate Prash was involved in various campus groups and organizations. In his upper years, he found himself wanting to belong to a tighter knit community on campus, which led to his subsequent involvement with the Woodsworth College Community. It was at this point that he joined and became active in the Woodsworth College Student Association, the Woodsworth Residence Council, the Howl and the Association of Political Science Students.
He also concurrently began working part-time at the Bank of Montreal. This experience gave him exposure to business management, and was an interesting supplement to his academic studies. While Prash initially wished to pursue a career in law, he turned down the opportunity to study in the UK for a full-time opportunity that came his way at the Bank of Montreal upon graduation. This ultimately shaped his career path in the banking sector. His experience quickly taught him that most roles are not one specific discipline - often they are a unique blend of many mandates (finance, marketing, strategy, etc).
When discussing his banking career, Prash points out that humanities and social science students often hesitate when entering a business or commerce driven field. Do I have what it takes? Do I need an MBA before I am adequately prepared? Having a humanities and social sciences background himself, he tries to dispels that misconception at every opportunity he gets. The kind of critical thinking skills garnered at university, is an advantage in many areas - especially in the banking environment.
Moving initiatives forward in a highly matrixed environment often involves crafting and presenting a ‘storyline’. Prash found his academic background helped him with this. It is the unique perspective that education brings to a job or role that is significant. Prash believes that open-minded HR practices will continue and burgeon in his field. He would like to see a a framework that does not solely espouse that a certain degree dictates a certain job type. For example, Prash points out that his degree in Criminology is not often thought of as an analytical program but in reality it requires a fairly high degree of comfort in statistics when working with data sets and trends. Some skills gained from this program were very useful in his career, and he believes individuals studying it should not feel limited in their career options.
Prash has some important pointers for those poised to soon graduate: the planning for his career path was a dynamic process, and his banking experience during his undergraduate career was extremely instrumental. He recommends to those interested in banking and/or other similar industries that it is beneficial to look for an interesting entry level opportunity in the desired company – irrespective of title or breadth. The first role you take will not necessarily be the defining role of your career, but it will be invaluable in your understanding of the institution, the industry, its culture and opportunities. Prash did not do any internships during his undergraduate summers but working as a part-time employee at BMO helped him understand product management and paved the way for his first role and future path. He further points out that if taking on a part time job during studies, it should not be overly demanding and should balance with academic demands.
Prash continues his involvement at Woodsworth. He is currently a director witht the Alumni Association of Woodsworth College, where he undertakes event planning and execution. He is also a mentor in the Woodsworth Alumni-Students Mentorship Program.
One Big Tip
Prash’s advice for students: Upon entering the workforce, try to find a good balance between humility and confidence. Always know your underlying worth and know what you can bring to the table. Pull all your experience (both from academics and life) together and come at whatever you are tasked with strong! Prash says looking back at his career, that this is what differentiated him from his peers. Be vocal and be a champion for what you own in your job and do all of that from the get go. The paradox is, that it still requires one to be humble and always believe that you have room to grow/improve. It is a delicate balance, but once you find that balance, you will find success. Prash encourages to keep an open mind. He explains that the modern day career path is a very different phenomenon from what it was even a few years ago due to economic change and rapid evolution in many industries. New graduates should be prepared for the reality that the modern day career path does not always have to be upward to be enriching and progressive. But he also believes that the current generation of university graduates is better prepared for the challenges in the work force than his own. The most important thing of all is to enjoy every moment!
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Prash Rasaiah's journey from involved student to a career in the finance sector