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Meet Patrick Erkkila ’16, Finance
Meet Patrick Erkkila ’16, Finance

It certainly wasn’t a traditional route that brought Patrick Erkkila to PSU. First, he was accepted into Washington State University (WSU) in Vancouver, but shortly before starting school Patrick discovered that WSU may not accept the GI Bill funding, which provides educational assistance to service members, veterans, and their dependents.

Patrick had to act fast in order to find an alternative, so he called PSU admissions and described the situation. PSU started an expedited admissions process for Patrick’s case and accepted him the very next day.

Patrick is a former Marine mechanic who certified helicopter engines on the Hawaiian Islands. Jobs in this niche field are usually with major defense contractors, predominantly located in the South. The limited prospects of his military background triggered an aspiration for a degree that wasn’t geographically limited. He chose to earn a finance degree and gained a unique skill-set applicable nationally, or even internationally.

Shortly after graduation, Patrick will drive across the country to embark on his next adventure in NYC. He accepted a position as PEX Change Agent at UBS Financial Services to work in the internal consulting division that helps streamline processes within the bank.

How was the process of getting a job at UBS? Was this employer on your wish list? 

It was a long process. I applied in January and had two interviews. The first was a phone screen in late February and the second was a final in person interview in New York City. Overall the process was amazing. The recruiter was incredibly nice and easily accessible. He was more than willing to answer all my questions and set me up for success.

UBS was my top choice when I was applying to jobs because this position builds off some of my past experience.

Was banking an industry you always wanted to work in? Why?

I became interested in the banking industry when I started my corporate finance class with Dave Nickel.

It’s such a large industry that’s involved in everything. You can specialize in so many facets and be exposed to so many different industries through banking. There’s also a tremendous amount of career opportunities globally so that helped draw me in as well.

How has your finance degree from PSU School of Business helped you start your career?

It has developed my ability to analyze problems and improved my critical thinking skills. My communication skills have also improved thanks to the many group projects the SBA has students complete.

Did you participate in any student organizations?

I have been a member of the Dean’s Future Leaders Group for the past two years. I’ve enjoyed this a lot because of the people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. It’s such a diverse group with members that have such amazing life experiences. We’ve tackled a few projects together which I feel will have a tremendous impact on student life within the SBA over the long term.

How did your experience in military prepare you for college?

I could not have been successful at Portland State without my experience in the Marines. I barely graduated high school. I think I found out I was eligible for graduation like two weeks beforehand. It might sound weird but I didn’t really know how to learn at that point. I lacked discipline and focus. When you’re in the Marines you don’t have a choice. You have to learn your job to the best of your abilities to help accomplish your missions. The Marines instilled that drive in me. I needed that direction and focus in my life.

What’s next for you – any additional education or courses?

My first day at UBS is July 11th. I think after a year if I’m really enjoying the work I’ll look into applying to a part time MBA program. NYU has a great set up for that. I’ve always wanted to go to law school also so who knows where life will lead. This time 3 years ago getting a Bachelor’s degree wasn’t even on my radar so I won’t worry about the future too much at this point.

>> Learn more about the Portland State undergraduate Finance program here.