Photo by Mary Beth Koeth.

Photo by Mary Beth Koeth.

Life After LEAD

by Julien Brathwaite, ’16 | Winter 2017

When I started at U-M in the fall of 2012, I had my career all planned. I would become an electrical engineer specializing in semiconductors. It was my passion. The dream was short-lived. Within a few weeks, the research and coursework completely failed to pique my interest. I began to explore other career opportunities and disciplines.

By the following semester, I was an industrial and operations engineering major. After my sophomore year, I was eager to find a summer internship to validate my interest in the field. Though it was rare for companies to hire sophomores, thanks to my LEAD mentor—Blair Parker, ’00, who works at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Auburn Hills, Michigan—I secured one.

My role that summer was to be a supplier quality engineer. What I learned from my internship, however, was that I was more interested in business than engineering. Given my scholarship, specifically for engineering, I could not switch majors but out of curiosity attended a J.P. Morgan informational session held on campus my junior year. There, I learned about the asset management industry. In the following weeks, I interviewed with the firm and received a summer internship offer, despite not coming from a traditional finance background.

After graduation, I moved to Seattle, where I began my career with Microsoft as an analyst in its Finance Rotation Program. This two-year rotational program consists of four, six-month-long rotations in various areas of the organization. So far, I have had the chance to work in the Internal Audit Practice, as well as on the Customer Support Services team. Now, I am in my third rotation with the Latin American Treasury Credit Services team in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

While at Microsoft, I have been fortunate enough to travel for work to Prague and Dublin. Beyond travel, I have also been able to pursue my passion of giving back. I now help Microsoft with recruiting. To date, I have been back to U-M twice, visited Hampton University in Virginia, and attended the National Association of Black Accountants convention in New Orleans. All to recruit top talent.

I’ve been blessed with a bevy of experiences that continue to mold me. I know being a LEAD Scholar, thanks to the Alumni Association, played a critical role in allowing me to be where I am today. I benefited not just from the free meals provided at Dinner With 5 Wolverines (an event held twice each semester), but from the networking skills I honed at the dinners. I also have enjoyed the opportunity to speak at various alumni engagement events, as both an undergraduate and now as an alumnus. LEAD’s positive impact on my life is truly undeniable.


The LEAD Scholars Program provides scholarships to African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students who have been accepted into U-M. Visit to learn how you can support the program and, thus, help create a more diverse campus.

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