Michael Sovak, BA’08

Mike Sovak works at JPMorgan Chase & Co. In appreciation for his Northeastern education, he is spreading the good word about cooperative education. After his Wall Street co-op experience at the firm turned into a full-time position, Sovak started pursuing ways to give back and advocate co-op's benefits.

As a co-op, he worked as a network analyst, helping the banking giant purchase services in countries without a strong company presence, like Brazil and Mexico. "It was very cool learning how all those different markets work," said the 24-year-old, who has just started a property management company on the side.

After graduation, JPMorgan hired him back as a project manager for middle-office projects, working for the Hedge Fund Services division in its Greenwich, Connecticut office. In this role, Sovak is advancing new business initiatives and building out the division's strategic platform-essentially working as an efficiency expert.

"It's not what you think," interjected Sovak, who was the recipient of the 2008 Co-op Award in the College of Business Administration. His job is to find processes that save the company money without losing staff, and to develop automation around repetitive tasks, allowing his team to focus on more challenging aspects of their work.

In this new role, he was in the perfect position to suggest hiring co-ops when the office made the decision to move its accounting staff to Boston. His proposal was very well received, and Sovak hopes to have the co-op program up and running in the Boston office soon.

"I brought up the idea of bringing co-ops to Boston, because you get these great advantages," said Sovak who majored in marketing and finance. "You can jump-start the hiring process, because you have someone who has worked for you for six months and with a great deal more experience."

But his advocacy doesn't stop there. During his own co-op process, Sovak developed a bond with his co-op advisor, Bonnie Brock. And when Brock asked him to come back to campus to deliver a guest lecture to a co-op class, he jumped at the chance. 

"There are so many things you learn in the field that you just can't learn in the classroom," he said. "Learning proper business etiquette, how to handle a tough boss . . . all of those little things that you don't think about in class. It makes for a much stronger candidate than someone who is just out of school."

When the opportunity arose, Sovak didn't hesitate to write an advice column for the College of Business Administration newsletter on what to expect when seniors join the workforce. He points to his own co-op experiences as the building blocks of a blossoming career.

As a student, Sovak was active on campus, participating in everything from Homecoming Court to the Choral Society to intramural sports. He even found time to do a little modeling, which eventually landed him a few billboard campaigns and minor television roles.