Soon after graduation, Camille Molas ’21 will start her career as an investment banking analyst with JPMorgan Chase in New York.
Her major? The astrophysics track in physics.
That might not be a typical path to Wall Street, but it worked perfectly for Molas.
“You don't have to be an economics major to go into finance,” she says. “I feel like sometimes if you're not an econ major, you're interesting. They see your resume and they're like, ‘Why are you here?’ I always get that question.”
After immigrating from the Philippines at age 7 and growing up in Miami, Molas arrived at Pomona College as a Posse Foundation Scholar and embraced the experience of a liberal arts college. She pursued a STEM major while also preparing for a career in business as well as continuing her love of dance by taking ballet classes every semester she was on campus. She also studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“You know, you get a taste of this, a taste of that. I really felt like I got to do that, because I did a bunch of physics, I did finance, I did classics and dance. You have so much liberty to do what it is that you're interested in,” Molas says.
“When I was a high school student, I was like, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to major in?’ But even if you want to go to medical school, as long as you follow a premed track, it doesn't matter what your major is. I have a friend who's majoring in Spanish and he's going to go into dentistry. You can do anything, so you should major in what you want to. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't work on the other side to get into a career you want. I had to hustle to get these finance internships. I had to catch up and take extra courses at Claremont McKenna [a member of The Claremont Colleges consortium]. But I found that it's easier to learn finance on the side than it is to learn astrophysics on the side.”
Finance and astrophysics might not seem like they have much in common, but Molas sees parallels.
During her time at Pomona, she has worked on a NASA-funded project with Physics and Astronomy Professor Philip Choi, tracking asteroids in partnership with researchers at Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Financial modeling doesn't seem so complex compared to orbits and rotations, she says.
“I look at the numbers for asteroids and I see their story,” Molas says. “I can tell where this asteroid came from. I can tell where it's going. It’s the same thing for companies. You see their balance sheet. You see their financial statements. You're like, ‘Oh, I see what happened to you. Are you going to survive next year? Are you making enough revenue?’ You're able to see that story.”
Molas secured an internship at Fidelity Investments after her sophomore year and then interned remotely for JPMorgan after her junior year during the pandemic summer of 2020. She’ll return to JPMorgan full time after graduating to start her career in one of the prestigious Wall Street training programs for recent graduates. They come with an impressive starting salary—though granted, it costs a lot to live in New York—and an annual bonus typically in five figures. Her initial assignment is in Morgan’s diversified industries division, an area that includes aerospace and defense, among other sectors.
“I’m hoping to work in aerospace and defense, but last summer I worked in chemicals and that was still very interesting,” Molas says.
Long term, she says she isn’t interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the sciences but instead wants to remain in the business world.
“I do I like working with companies, almost in an operational manner but on the financial side,” Molas says. “I would say something in the C-suite, thinking big picture of how things work: How can we make this better? What can do to improve this? Those are the kind of challenges that I'm looking for. That's the type of work I want to continue doing. And I really connect that to my physics background, because that's what we do all the time.”