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Getting down to business with alumna Kayla Singer

Tom Fennell and Nicole Arca
"Sierra empowered me to feel comfortable in a large school environment, and have an impact and the confidence to make a difference." In this week's spotlight, Kayla Singer (SC '12) talks about her passion for business and her advice to Trailblazers.

Kayla Singer is an SC alumna with Trailblazing business acumen and loads of amibition. After graduating from USC's Marshall School of Business, she balances a career in finance consulting with her ongoing philanthrophy for United in Harmony. Read on for more about Kayla and her wise words to this year's graduating seniors.

What led you to your present position, and can you tell us more about what you do there?
I work at PwC in downtown LA on the deals team, performing valuations for merger and acquisition deals.
I was not sure what I wanted to do after graduation until my senior year at USC. I had interned at an alternative investment firm, a start-up technology company, a health care consulting firm, worked for a professor at USC, and did marketing/PR, along with a few others jobs in preparing to do some type of consulting work upon graduation. When I began recruiting in the fall of my senior year, I met people on the valuation team from another firm and was intrigued because it combined my consulting passion with finance.
Can you tell us more about your major at USC? What propelled you to pick that major?  
I graduated with a degree in business administration from the USC Marshall School of Business.
Since I was a child, I knew that I wanted to go into business.  My father is an entrepreneur and I always looked up to him, which helped inspire me at an early age to become a businesswoman.
When I went to his office as a child, I realized that although I did not want to work in the same industry, business excited me and I looked forward to when I would be able to be in business.
Were there any classes, teachers, or extracurricular activities that you can say informed your current professional endeavors?
Professor Michael Mische, my mentor, is the reason I became so interested in consulting. I was his teacher’s assistant in his management consulting class for both his undergraduate and graduate classes. His breadth of knowledge and his extraordinary leadership skills are two of the many things that led me along the path to my career decision. Through him, I was able to help many students with school or give them career advice. He taught me so much and positively shaped my college experience. I would highly recommend the opportunity to be a teacher’s assistant to a professor you respect and admire.
What special interests, outside of work, are you pursuing? 
It’s challenging to pursue outside activities in the first year of a new job, especially in my field, where we work long hours. I have stayed committed to United in Harmony. United in Harmony puts on a sleep away camp for homeless children and provides leadership events. I have been involved United in Harmony since high school and this is something that is very important to me.
Further, I try to attend speaking events when possible and look for unique opportunities to be involved in the community.
If you were to pick out a single experience at Sierra Canyon that impacted you the most, what would that be? 
It is very hard to pinpoint a single experience, but am very appreciative of the many positive experiences at Sierra Canyon that shaped me and prepared me so well for college. One of the many things I can thank Sierra Canyon for is empowering me to be heard. Many of my classmates in college were too timid to speak up in class or try to make an impact on campus, but Sierra empowered me to feel comfortable in a large school environment, and have an impact and the confidence to make a difference.
Any advice you would give to current seniors and college applicants?
The college process feels so overwhelming and can be stressful, but it is most likely that you will end up very happy and at a college or university where you can thrive and prosper. The good news is that there are so many options and opportunities, and there are multiple places where you can be happy and successful.
I would recommend not to get too hung up on “names”. I did have a few friends that picked schools because of the names only, and they were sometimes not as happy and some ultimately transferred. Really try to picture yourself going to that school and see if you would be happy.  
Also, one recommendation for once you get to college: meet everyone you can and anyone you can. Don’t be shy, because everyone is in your same shoes and a lot of my friends from freshman year are still my closest friends, so just put yourself out there.
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Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.