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Spotlight on: Dani Lefland, T'16

October 18, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Shruti Rao

Dani is an Equity Research Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the Industrials sector. Dani graduated from Duke in 2016 with a B.S. in Economics and a certificate in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. At Duke, she served as the Co-Chair for BOW’s Spring Business Conference in 2015 and was President of Duke’s Jewish Student Union.

Dani Lefland

How did DukeEngage and Duke in Madrid shape your Duke experience?

Participating in DukeEngage and Duke in Madrid allowed me to take fuller advantage of all that Duke has to offer. For DukeEngage, I lived in Seattle and worked for a food bank distributor. Duke in Madrid was more academic. While in Madrid, I lived with a great host family and took all my classes in Spanish in order to gain a far deeper cultural understanding of Spain. I would classify both DukeEngage and Duke in Madrid as truly immersive experiences that exposed me to new communities and new friends at Duke. Upon returning to campus from both experiences, I saw the importance of broadening my horizons and sought to do the same at Duke and in Durham. Both of these programs also made me adaptable to new experiences.

How did your internships influence your career path?

DukeEngage was my first internship, followed by two summers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. I first interned in Sales and Trading. S&T is fast paced and keeps you close to the markets, which was a great experience; however, I wanted to gain more in-depth knowledge of companies and their stocks or bonds that I was asked to present on throughout my rotations. My mentors that summer recommended that I look into research for more project-based work. Leveraging support from my mentors and the firm’s internal mobility, I moved into Equity Research. I loved the inherent deep dive nature of the work and the more project-oriented atmosphere. It was great to get several different perspectives throughout my internships and I returned full time to Research at BAML.

What’s your favorite part about working in finance?

I’m surrounded by smart, curious people. In Research, our work is very detailed and the seniors are often regarded as experts in their space. I’m always encouraged to keep learning and it’s an intellectually stimulating environment.

What was the most impactful benefit of being a part of BOW?

Everything BOW did met or exceeded my expectations, and it all comes down to BOW’s great network. You have great opportunities interact with people not only in a field of your choice, but also in industries you may not have thought to be for you. There are also strong bonds to be made with both BOW alumni and current students. The networking really prepares you to enter the working world, especially as a woman. BOW members come out more poised and more confident than when they started.

Why is mentorship important to you?

Mentorship is critical to anyone’s success. I have mentors here at BAML who helped guide me to a path that they thought was best for me in Research, which was invaluable to my success so far. It is important to have a sounding board and to be able to confide in your mentors. At Duke, I had several mentors, both students and professors, who had my best interests in heart. They focused on what they thought would be enriching for me, even if it was not the easiest path. Ultimately, that is how I found the role I am currently in.

What advice would you have for when starting your first job?

Leaving Duke and starting your first job is a big transition. It can take 6 months to a year to get used to living in a new place and ramping up at your job. Your lifestyle really changes and it is okay to give yourself time to transition. It’s very respectable to bring a sense of humility when it comes to lack of experience, but combine it with an attitude of wanting to learn and soak in everything around you. Work as hard as you can and get the most out of what you do. It is also really important to have an outlet and take care of yourself. Most important, believe in yourself and be excited about this new phase in your life!