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Dublin High School’s Ina Deljkic on Graduating from Georgetown into a Full-Time Job in Four Years

June 30, 2016

DUBLIN, CA–Our Life After College Series continues with Dublin High School Class of 2012 and Georgetown University Class of 2016 alum Ina Deljkic. Ina first wrote about her first two years in college back in June 2014 (read more…). Fast forward nearly two years to the day and Ina has graduated from Georgetown, majoring in finance and international business, with a full-time investment banking job waiting for her in San Francisco. We recently spoke with the trilingual (Serbo-Croatian, German and English) Gael to close the loop on her college experience.

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OneDublin.org: What was your strategy to staying on track and graduating from Georgetown University in four years?

Ina Deljkic: “Graduating in four years at Georgetown, or less, is the norm. I could have graduated in three but decided to take on an additional major which added a year. It was possible because I took about 15 AP classes while at Dublin High School, and Georgetown was really good about approving college credit for AP classes. For example, I completed all my math credits before arriving. Even if you can only take a few AP classes it really helps when you get to college, whether that’s graduating early or taking classes you wouldn’t have been able to take otherwise. I was able to take additional classes in the Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program and in linguistics as a result. AP class credits clear general ed college courses gives you more freedom to take classes you are really interested in.”

OneDublin.org: How did you manage the balance the academic load in high school you just referred to, a life outside of school and (hopefully) a full night’s sleep?

Deljkic: “I’ve been good at time management throughout high school and college. I think I’m able to work smarter by being organized so I don’t end up spending as much time in the library as other students. I remember being in five AP’s and an honors class while playing basketball one year. I’d have an away game and wouldn’t get home until 10pm, but because I knew that game was coming I’d work ahead and study the weekend prior rather than partying.

“I know there is a big debate going on right now about how much homework students should get. In my case I never felt overwhelmed and enjoyed the work. I believe it is possible for some students to handle the workload and that you shouldn’t stop students from pushing themselves if they want to. You can’t prevent the elite private schools from pushing their students, so you need to allow public school students to compete on the same level if they want to. It was possible for me and my peers, and a big help was studying in groups – in high school and especially in college. You can’t survive without having someone else there with you.

“It is possible and yes, it’s stressful at times, especially if you are playing a sport and in leadership at the same time. At the end of the day I never felt extremely overwhelmed.”

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OneDublin.org: Where did your motivation come from to challenge yourself, and to sacrifice some of the social aspects of high school?

Deljkic: “My parents have always had a hands off approach. I came to Dublin pretty young from Germany and both my parents are well-educated, and had to redo their medical and dental education when they moved to the US to work here. I always realized I had it a lot easier than my parents and that there was no reason for me not to take advantage of the opportunity I’d been offered. I felt like everything was on a silver platter compared to my parents.

“I also had my eyes set on Georgetown from my freshman year of high school,  saw what other kids were doing to get into Georgetown, and knew what I needed to do to get there.”

OneDublin.org: What attracted you to Georgetown?

Deljkic: “Georgetown is a school like no other school. It’s a Jesuit Catholic school and you take theology classes there, but it’s a very welcoming and accepting school. Our graduation ceremony opened with a Jewish prayer, a Catholic prayer and a Muslim prayer. I’m surprised more students from Dublin High School don’t apply to Georgetown because it’s very similar to the environment at DHS, everyone gets involved whether it’s athletics, leadership, clubs or volunteering. Everyone at Georgetown does something beyond their academic studies.

“Especially in the Georgetown Business School people are very open to meeting other people and are very helpful. While I didn’t know anyone directly who had gone to Georgetown, I knew from the research I completed that it was the right school for me. I originally thought I was going to end up in New York but my first full-time job is back here in the Bay Area.”

OneDublin.org: ‘Investment banking’ is a profession that gets portrayed in Hollywood movies like Wall Street. How do you describe what investment banking really is based on your experiences so far in college and internships?

Deljkic: “It’s not like the movies. When assigning a value to a company, because they are going public or being acquired or sold, you create models and forecasts based on the information you have available. Sometimes that means assigning a value to companies that are so early stage that they don’t have a commercial product yet. You can debate whether valuing a company is an art or a science, but you’ll look at reference companies in the same field, and see how they’ve been valued. With some companies there are fewer tangible assets, like land or manufacturing plants, to value and it’s really about forecasting the potential of future products.”

OneDublin.org: What did you learn from internships during your time at Georgetown, and how did internships complement what you learned in the classroom?

Deljkic: “When looking for internships it’s really important to start early. I started looking for internships each fall, even when I took a semester abroad in Copenhagen, which meant taking interviews in the middle of the night due to the timezone difference! Georgetown has strong connections with New York and Boston-based firms, but if you are going to work in San Francisco you are pretty much on your own. Georgetown has an online career management system, Hoya Career Connection, which lists job opportunities. Many of the investment banks will come to Georgetown for networking events. I learned how important connections are, it’s not just about applying for jobs; someone you meet at a networking event may prove helpful years later.

“I also recommend using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search capability where you can find very specific contacts based on their background and experience. I used this to help identify Georgetown alumni at companies I was interested in to whom I could reach out  and ask for advice.

“As a finance major you take courses in accounting, financial modeling, valuation, financial markets and so on, but when you solve real world valuation problems the experience is so different. In the real world you are not given all the material you need, clean and structured. In the real world it’s a combination of applying the tools you’ve learned and working with people who have a lot of experience.

“My key piece of advice for getting the most out of internships is to get to know people in many different groups. I grabbed lunch with senior people across the companies I worked for, understanding their jobs and asking for career advice. You need to take the time to talk to people, advice I took from the book Never Eat Alone; value the opportunity to network during internships as much as the work you are doing.”

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Ina with her parents

OneDublin.org: We wrote about your experiences at the Copenhagen Business School Case Competition earlier this year; what other activities were you involved in outside the classroom?

Deljkic: “I was involved with the Georgetown University Women in Leadership during my first two years of college. I also served as Director of Finance for a new restaurant on campus, ‘The Hilltoss‘, a salad and smoothie shop through the campus co-op, which ended up taking 15-20 hours per week. The restaurant name is a play on Georgetown’s nickname ‘The Hilltop’. Our goal was satisfying an unmet need for delivering healthy food quickly. A lot of skills I was learning in class applied to that job. I took a really cool class on operations management at Georgetown which I was able to apply in thinking about the logistics of the restaurant we were starting. It was a group of friends opening up a restaurant on campus while being students, building off seed money from a campus co-op.”

OneDublin.org: What advice do you have for parents of highly self-motivated students?

Deljkic: “Parents should trust their kids. I’ve seen kids of hyper-involved parents fall off at the end. Kids ultimately need to be self-motivated; I’m in my early twenties now and it isn’t my parents that are motivating me to work hard or succeed. My parents have always been there to support me and reassure me, because I felt they trusted me.”

OneDublin.org: “Finally, what are your feelings as you step out of college classes and into a full-time job, also known as ‘the real world’?”

Deljkic: “I’m excited to start out in the real world. As much as I loved the past four years learning as much as I could at Georgetown, I am excited to start in the real world. I have always enjoyed working, especially with other people and am excited for that part of my life. I’m lucky to have found something I have genuine interest in and look forward to starting my career.”

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