Our Stories

Maximizing Her Opportunities

Program and alumni helped student explore her options

Ashley McLemore
Portfolio Valuation Analyst, Kroll

Vanderbilt MS Finance 2022

After graduating from college, Ashley McLemore knew she wanted to pursue a career in finance. She was “pretty sure” she wanted to go into corporate finance. But because she had not accumulated much internship experience in that area, she says, “I felt uncomfortable making a decision for a full-time role” in finance. So she made a decision instead to come to Vanderbilt.

“I decided that Vanderbilt was the best choice for me because of the career opportunities and outcomes that the students had,” Ashley says. “I knew that I would be able to explore different options that I wasn't aware of as an undergraduate. Being able to see the diversity across different types of job functions was really important to me because I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go. But I knew the diversity was very beneficial, since all of these individuals came from the same program.”

Vanderbilt alumni also helped Ashley refine her career choice. Her coach at the Career Management Center recommended specific alumni in particular fields who could offer her guidance. Even before she began the program, she was having conversations that helped guide her decision making. “Those conversations were invaluable,” she says. “After I spoke to a few different alumni of the MSF program, it helped guide my path much more. I think that the Vanderbilt alumni network is one of the most beneficial aspects of coming to the school.”

On top of the knowledge, skills, and connections she gained, Ashley highlights one other critical takeaway from the program: her newfound confidence in her abilities. Because of her preparation at Vanderbilt, she says, “I am comfortable asking questions, admitting when I am not knowledgeable about a particular subject, and inserting my opinion—whether it is similar to the group consensus or not.”

That confidence has shaped her whole attitude, including the advice she offers incoming students. “You are not an imposter,” she says. “The sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the resources here and use them to become a better overall person.”

Fun Fact: During the pandemic, Ashley established a small business making and decorating sugar cookies.

I knew that I would be able to explore different options that I wasn't aware of as an undergraduate.