Stamford First-Generation Student Maximizes Opportunities

Stamford business major Christian Escotto-Rosado '19 (BUS) is soaking up every experience he can, including an internship at IBM and the chance to take part in the Student Managed Fund. (Nathan Oldham/UConn School of Business)
Stamford business major Christian Escotto-Rosado ’19 (BUS) is soaking up every experience he can, including an internship at IBM and the chance to take part in the Student Managed Fund. (Nathan Oldham/UConn School of Business)

Christian Escotto-Rosado is always on the hunt for his next opportunity.

A first-generation college student, the 21-year-old UConn senior is soaking up every experience he can – be it working full-time as a bank teller while juggling a grueling course schedule, throwing his hat in the ring for a prestigious internship, or learning to decorate a mean birthday cake at his mother’s fledgling Bronx event venue.

“He loves to learn. He loves a challenge and he’s very resourceful,” said Marlys Rizzi, program manager at the School of Business in Stamford and a trusted advisor who has known Escotto-Rosado for more than two years. “He’s dependable. No one needs to tell him what to do. But he’s also very humble. You don’t find that combination in everyone.”

Born in the Bronx to Dominican Republic-born parents, Cristian and Ana, Escotto-Rosado is older brother to Christopher, 11, and Chrisalen, 10. The family moved to Danbury in 2010 and Escotto-Rosado enrolled at Henry Abbott Technical High School, where he studied heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

While he knew he could have a solid career in the trade, Escotto-Rosado decided to further his education. He applied to UConn’s Waterbury branch to study business administration and made the switch to Stamford not long after, to hone in on Financial Management.

“I thought there would be more opportunities,” he said.

And he hasn’t been disappointed. Since the Financial Management majors have a fairly set course of study, Escotto-Rosado quickly made friends with his classmates and found himself right at home.

“I would say it’s a good feeling within the Financial Management major,” he said. “You’re all taking classes together and it makes it a community sort of feeling.”

He’s been enjoying the laser-sharp focus of the field as well.

“It’s far more specific, more applied,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do something in business and it’s awesome to have the opportunity to look at business and how business is done,” he said. “I feel like it’s a good quality education.”

The decision to attend college has not come without some challenges. For the last two years, he worked 32 hours a week as a Chase Bank teller, while juggling a full-time course schedule.

“I’d work in the morning and go to school at night. It worked out well. I’ve learned to operate on less sleep,” said Escotto-Rosado, who hasn’t had the luxury of rolling out of bed at the crack of noon as some college students do. “It’s interesting. Eight-thirty is like sleeping in for me now.”

At Chase, Escotto-Rosado said he learned people skills he believes will serve him well wherever he lands in business. In addition, he was an ATM custodian, with about $800,000 under his control on any given day.

“That was a great opportunity to have that responsibility on my shoulders,” he said.

Escotto-Rosado might still be at the bank if it hadn’t been for another opportunity that came his way – this time with IBM, where he snagged a plum, full-time internship as a financial analyst in its Armonk, N.Y., headquarters.

The company had been recruiting on the Stamford campus and he jumped at the chance to grow at the corporate giant.

“The planets kind of aligned,” he said with a laugh. “I can’t say enough good things about it.”

Escotto-Rosado’s day at IBM sometimes started with a 6:30 a.m. pickup basketball game that might include anyone from his fellow interns to IBM executives.

After a quick shower and change, he’d find himself forecasting financial realities in the current year, and how products were performing against budgets, and adjusting targets for the future.

As with any internship, Escotto-Rosado knew he had to quickly learn and adapt to IBM’s particular language and corporate culture to stand out – another test that will serve him in his career.

“It was really a cool, hands-on experience,” he said.

Escotto-Rosado credits UConn faculty and advisors such as Professor Robert Biolsi with helping him make the transition from promising student to valued employee. Escotto-Rosado especially liked Biolsi’s “Fixed Income Securities” course.

“His style of leading is very open, more dialogue-based,” he said. “He wants you to put the full puzzle together.”

Biolsi was instrumental in securing another internship for Escotto-Rosado, this time with an investment banker who challenged him to look at specific municipal bonds and how they were performing. The investor was based on Long Island, so Escotto-Rosado would study the bonds’ performance at UConn’s state-of-the-art Bloomberg terminal, and then hop on the Port Jefferson Ferry in nearby Bridgeport every couple of weeks to meet with the investor and present his findings.

Prior to the internship, Escotto-Rosado really didn’t have much experience with the Bloomberg terminal, Rizzi said.

“He knew he needed to know more about the Bloomberg terminal. He just came in here every day and worked on it himself,” she said. “He wasn’t being taught. He just came in and did it on his own.”

This semester, Escotto-Rosado is excited to be part of the highly selective Student Managed Fund at UConn, in which students learn about investing and then gain valuable hands-on experience by investing real money in the stock market, with the guidance of financial experts.

Escotto-Rosado is one of only two or three undergrads on the first-ever Stamford team.

“It’s a really big honor,” Rizzi said.

Run by Goldman Sachs retiree Blake Mather, another invaluable mentor, the fund goes along with a class for course credit. Escotto-Rosado went the extra mile to take an optional course with Mather in Fall 2017. It came with no course credit, but he saw a priceless payoff.

“The only benefit of it is knowledge,” he said.

He’s also vice president of the Financial Management Club and is president of the Market Watch Program, which challenges members to invest fictional funds and follow the market in real time.

And in his spare time?

Last year, Ana Escotto-Rosado opened Diva Baking & Decor, where she whips up confections and hosts birthday parties and other fun events. Her son, who helps her on weekends and has become quite adept in the kitchen himself, proudly shows photos of their work on his smart phone.

Since he lives at home, he also enjoys helping his little brothers with their homework and kicking back with a videogame from time to time.

“That’s my unwind time,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s never a dull moment.”

By next year, Escotto-Rosado hopes to be working at Goldman Sachs, IBM or another high-powered organization. He’s also considering studying abroad this winter break and even checking out another job possibility – London-based McLaren Automotive, maker of the sleek sports cars, of which he is fond.

“That would be cool, to work there,” he said with a laugh. “Why not?”