search button
newscenter logo
Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

Victor Penera Victor Penera

#SDSUGrad: Victor Penera

Following graduation, Victor Penera will begin a full-time position with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in their Associate Financial Advisor Development Program.
By SDSU News Team

Over the past year, the San Diego State University community has shown its true resilience. Graduates from the Class of 2021 are no exception. During this unprecedented time in human history, the university has prioritized providing students with important services like virtual academic supportemergency financial assistance and other support services. In particular, SDSU Career Services continues to offer resources for students, including the online career platform Handshake and expanded virtual programming and advising.

In this series, we highlight graduates as they prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives, including those who have secured jobs and internships or are moving into advanced studies. 

Name: Victor Penera
Major: Finance
Hometown: Soledad, Calif.

Can you describe a little bit about yourself and what led you to pursue finance as an area of study?

I come from the Salinas Valley and grew up around agriculture my entire life. I always thought I would end up working in the agricultural industry but during a college trip in high school I was able to see what the rest of the world had to offer. With that, I was also able to recognize the disparities between where I come from and other places in California. I knew I had an opportunity to go to a four-year university and it wasn’t something I took lightly. I decided to major in finance because I knew it would give me the biggest platform to eventually give back to my community one day. What led me to pursue a career in financial services was my first summer job freshman year of college. I worked in a warehouse packaging produce every day starting at 5:30 a.m. It was an extremely humbling experience that not only taught me the importance of work ethic but also shed light on an issue that many people from my community face, and that is financial literacy. I want to increase financial literacy in communities like my own and hopefully use my platform as a financial planner to help people and families live a life free from financial constraints.

When did you receive your official job offer and what was your reaction?

I received my full-time offer back in September after I completed my internship with Merrill Lynch last summer. I was super relieved as I knew it was one less thing to worry about during my senior year. I thought back to all of the sacrifices my family and I had to make to get me to where I am today and it was at that moment where I felt a huge wave of emotions. I read a great quote in high school that I have always lived by and that is “you get what you work for, not what you wish for.” It was extremely rewarding to know all my work had paid off.

What advice do you have for fellow students, regardless of their field, looking to jumpstart their career post graduation?

Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to fail. I say this three times in a row because I mean it that much and I’ll probably say it again. My entire sophomore year I applied to dozens upon dozens of internships and jobs and was denied from every single one. I kept on questioning whether or not this was the industry for me but through it all I persevered and kept on pushing forward. Sometimes all it takes is one opportunity, and you won't get it unless you keep on trying, so don’t shy away from critique or failure, seek it. It's what will help you grow the most.

Even if you feel you aren’t the most qualified person for a job, go for it. It’s all of the rejected applications, thousands of resume edits, and hours of interviews that will help you grow. The greatest investment you can ever make is an investment in yourself, so take the time early on to prepare yourself for the future. Just another reminder, don’t be afraid to fail. 

How did SDSU prepare you for success not only at the university but after graduation?

This past year I had the privilege of serving as the Vice President of Financial Affairs for Associated Students. In this role I was able to oversee the management and implementation of a $30 million dollar budget along with leading one of the biggest food drive campaigns in the CSU system, Aztecs Rock Hunger. I start with this because it was the opportunity that this university gave me to be a leader that shaped me into the person I am today. SDSU taught me how to work with others, how to communicate effectively, and how to lead with courage. The most important lesson I learned during my time at SDSU is that success should never be measured by your accolades but rather through your service to others, and it’s these experiences that I will take with me after graduation.

What experience at SDSU has changed your life the most?

I wouldn’t be able pinpoint an exact moment in time that changed my life the most, so instead I’ll talk about the thousands of small moments that culminated over my years at SDSU. From long hours in the library, hanging out in the student union, grabbing burritos from Trujillos, building a home in Tijuana, or giving a speech in COMM-103; it was every single one of these experiences that changed my life the most. Through all the good times and the bad, I reminded myself of the privilege I had to be able to attend an amazing institution like SDSU. Now after four years I can proudly call myself an alumnus. SDSU has changed my life in so many ways and has prepared me to embark on my new journey.