December 20, 2012
By Mohini Ufeli
A double major in Biology and Latin American Studies, Noelia Solano’s academic interests are very much influenced by her home - the forested town of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Her job, on the other hand, is quite unrelated.
Noelia Solano ‘13 is the Student Government Association’s Business Manager. She started as a bookkeeper in her sophomore year - “I was just applying for a bunch of different jobs,” she says, “I didn’t really have a sense of where my strengths lay.” But Solano knew what she wanted out of a job,“I hoped to gain some more practical skills, working in an office, working with other people.” And that is what she found.
The Business office handles the banking needs of Mount Holyoke’s student organizations. Its student staff consists of four to five bookkeepers and Solano, whose job it is to keep the Business Office running. This involves training the bookkeepers, organization treasurers and other individuals who need to work with the Business Office. She trains these different groups in banking processes such as how to make withdrawals and deposits, write checks, and how to get the appropriate transaction receipts for records. Outside of training, Solano keeps record of all the transactions that student organizations make, monitors office supplies and troubleshoots problems by email.
Solano works two to three hours a day, an average of four days a week. As manager, she communicates frequently with Student Programs and Financial Services. She finds that the level of responsibility of her work makes the experience very rewarding, “Being entrusted with this many tasks, and obviously, working with this many people...It makes me feel more committed to really doing my job well.”
Working at the Business Office has grown Solano’s ability to work independently, “Nobody is checking in with me on a daily basis” she says. Additionally, she is better able to work with people and facilitate inter-personal relationships between them. For instance, she has to communicate the bookkeepers duties to them effectively, as how well they do their job directly affects the efficiency of the business office. Solano’s job is one that involves communicating with large groups at a time, and effective public speaking is a necessity, “I work with so many different people,” says Solano, “...I give training for maybe fifty to a hundred treasurers at one time, so I really need to be able to effectively communicate, and this is information that they need to know.”
Working as business manager also has psychological benefits, as Solano describes, “What I’ll take from this is a totally different level of confidence in what I’m able to do, what skills I can offer to a future employer.” “Having this as a learning experience will make me a more valuable employee, “she says, “Even if I may not have technical experience in a different field, there are a lot of skills that are transferrable.”
Armed with these skills, Solano has begun a search for jobs post-Mount Holyoke. In a bid to further explore her newfound interest in accounting - developed from working at the Business Office - she is looking at bookkeeping opportunities in non-profit or conservation organizations. “Working in this kind of field has become a more attractive possibility,” says Solano, “I never would have considered accounting or bookkeeping after college, before this job.”