As soon as she received her acceptance letter from Fordham, Isabelle Lee had a sense of how to get the most out of her experience as a member of the Global Business Honors Program at the Gabelli School of Business—and internships were a huge part of her plans. “I really focused on gaining a lot of internship experience throughout college, and I would say that each experience I had taught me new things,” she said. “I think even having an internship in a field you don’t particularly like helps you hone your vision for your future path.” Lee’s internships included ones at marketing agencies LR Paris and Fwd, and public relations firm Wachsman. The Forest Hills, Queens, native balanced those experiences with on-campus activities like the Dean’s Council, Freshman Mentorship Program, and Student Philanthropy Committee. Today, after graduating from Fordham in 2020, she is a marketing account executive at Ruder Finn, an independent public relations agency, where she works on traditional media outreach, social media, and internal and external communications.

What are some of the reasons why you decided to attend Fordham?
I decided to seriously consider Fordham as an option when I knew that I wanted to go to business school. As a native New Yorker, I knew how many internship and work experiences it would open for me. I found it hard to wrap my head around moving away from one of the world’s most prominent centers of business when I knew I wanted to do a business degree. The contacts I made initially at Fordham, as well as the Gabelli program, instantly impressed me when I visited and helped me decide to commit to Fordham for my undergraduate studies.

What do you think you got at Fordham that you couldn’t have gotten elsewhere?
The global opportunities and experiences that Fordham provided were absolutely incredible. I cannot speak highly enough of the Fordham London program in particular, which did a wonderful job of immersing us in the culture and providing us with a holistic experience of living and working in England. Although Fordham also has an extensive list of partner programs at other schools, such as the one I did at University College Dublin, having a sister campus abroad made [doing] my coursework stress-free. I would recommend it to anyone studying at Fordham, and in particular, I’d recommend taking a theatre class in London.

What Fordham course has had the greatest influence on you and your career path so far? How and why was it so influential?
I took several marketing classes with Timothy Malefyt, which heavily influenced me to go into marketing and the agency world in particular. His perspective on branding was a joy to learn about, and his experiences in the agency field were very helpful for setting expectations of what a career would look like after college.

Who is the Fordham professor or person you admire the most, and why?
Father Vincent DeCola, assistant dean for the B.S. in global business. He truly works so hard to ensure that each and every one of his students is on the right path and employs incredible attention to detail when getting to know his students. His dedication to the student body at Gabelli, and at Fordham as a whole, is so inspiring and had a huge impact on my time there. I owe him so much for making my experience at Fordham highly tailored and very special.

Did you have any internships helped put you on your current path? What were they, and how did they prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Most influential for me was my time at Fwd, which introduced me to how marketing and branding strategists actually work. As an intern at fwd., I did a host of things, including research, conducting interviews, trend monitoring, and more. That internship really helped me learn how to talk to people through the lens of work, which became particularly important when I onboarded to my current company, Ruder Finn, remotely.

What are you optimistic about?
Despite the challenges of the past couple of years due to the pandemic, I’m very optimistic about the future of our world and the future of work. I would attribute this to a massive increase in empathy across the board. In New York City in particular, I’ve seen how much people are taking care of each other and their communities. I’m optimistic about how this shift in mindset will manifest in our personal lives and in the work-life balance that we accept as a societal norm. I think people are more inclined to really care about how they impact and can support their communities and their friends—it’s encouraging to see this shift in mindset.

Is there anything else we should know about you, your plans, or your Fordham connection?
I would like to acknowledge the amazing Global Business Honors Program, as well as Dean Brian Dunn and Jennifer O’Neil, who made my time at Fordham so special. The honors program granted me some incredible opportunities, such as traveling on business trips to London, Beijing, and Santiago. I am forever thankful for the many ways that Fordham expanded my world and the incredible opportunities to hear speakers from top businesses [and have] cultural experiences.

Interview conducted, edited, and condensed by Adam Kaufman, FCLC ’08.