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Student Spotlight: Sara Atta's Persistence Pays Off After a Call from Goldman Sachs

By Brenda Santos

Sara Atta

TAMPA (March 8, 2021) -- It has been five years in the making, five years of applying and being unsuccessful. But on Feb. 2, Sara Atta got word that she was in. The call from Goldman Sachs that she had been hired as an operations summer analyst finally showed up in her mail.

Atta’s journey was not unlike many international students here at USF. In August 2015, Atta made the move from Egypt to the United States to pursue the opportunities for higher education.

“Only boys traveled for school and I wanted to change that,” Atta said. She also saw that most of her peers applied to universities near home.

An unexpected obstacle Atta ran up against before coming to USF was getting her father’s approval.

“He was against it at first,” she said, “but he was just watching out for me.” It wasn’t until Atta proved through her interest, enthusiasm and applying early for colleges that she was able to convince her father that she was serious about studying abroad.

“I was that student who would rather stay home on the weekends to study and prepare for school than go out,” she said. “I would make sure my schoolwork came first.”

Why pursue a degree in finance?

“I have a passion for sales and marketing,” she said, “and I see finance as a way to interact with people.” Atta also would love to help people that struggle with money, as financial health is very important to her.

Atta served as the CFO for the Professional Sales Club in 2018 and was involved in the Management Information Systems Society during her undergrad. She was also a member of Women in Business. In 2018, she won first place in the marketing presentation for the USF Sales Competition, where she teamed with the marketing executives of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Looking ahead to her position with Goldman Sachs, Atta is eager to work for a company that invests in their employees and has such a diverse workforce.

“I reached out to nearly everyone in the company, from the interns to the top executives,” she said. Atta focused on the importance of networking. “I wanted to show them that I was very interested. I think it shows that I am passionate about being a part of the company.”

Her advice for students looking to follow her on this path: Apply early for any position. “Timing,” she said, “is very important.”

As an international student, Atta said there is the additional challenge of needing a sponsor to land an internship and that can be disheartening at times.

“I wanted to give up because I knew they would see that I needed a sponsor,” she said, “and assumed they would deny me based on that alone.”

But she kept on. She wants to be a symbol of hope for international students that may be in her position.

“If you are an international student, that’s an advantage,” she said. “You will stand out as you offer a different perspective.”

Atta is grateful to her professors who encouraged her and to USF for giving her the resources to succeed.

“Don’t give up,” she said. “Although you may be majoring in a specific field, don’t limit yourself. Pursue your passions.”