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Why an Investment Banker Became an ESM mentor


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Katie Lawrence stands in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego after riding across the country from North Carolina, helping build affordable housing along the way with Bike and Build in 2012.

Picture this: you are in your first full-time job out of college, working for one of the world’s premier investment banks: Lehman Brothers. You are not only the youngest member of your team, but also the only woman. Six days after you start on the trading floor, you get a call saying the company is going bankrupt and you need to clear everything out of your office; they don’t know if you will have a job tomorrow. This is the situation Katie Lawrence faced at her first job after graduating from Princeton in 2008.

“It was a chaotic time, with people constantly trading, yelling, and throwing footballs on the trading floor. But I was fortunate to have had good mentors and learned a lot very quickly,” Katie said.  

Having grown up with an older brother and playing sports with people twice her size, she learned to be scrappy. She was kept on at Barclays after they acquired the remnants of Lehman and spent the next 4 years working on the trading floor at Barclay’s Capital before deciding she wanted to return to school. After going through the grueling process of MBA applications, she decided Dartmouth was the best fit.  

Growing up, Katie was always doing something athletic: she played lacrosse, swam competitively, and went on multiple long-distance bike trips. Before she even began college, she had completed bike trips across the United States, Canada, Alaska, and France. She loves cycling and leading teams so much that she then worked for Bike and Build in the summer of 2012. She organized and led a team of 25 young adults on a three-month bike trip from North Carolina to San Diego. They raised over $100,000 for affordable housing, stopping in 9 different states along the way to help Habitat for Humanity build houses.

She started at Dartmouth that fall, and her passion for helping students get into college grew after she got a job in the admissions department. This passion began while working with Minds Matter while she worked in New York City. Through this organization, she was paired with a low-income, at-risk student at the beginning of their sophomore year of high school. The relationship continues through college acceptance and high school graduation. They met weekly to work on homework, study for the SAT, fill out college apps, and establish a lifelong mentorship.


“No matter how badly the world around you was crumbling, you always got to spend those few hours every weekend with each other. It gave me some great perspective on the world,” Katie said.

After Dartmouth, she moved out to San Francisco and returned to the world of financial services, working at JP Morgan Private Bank. She continued to help mentor students and became a junior board member for Summer Search, which helps at-risk youth achieve their dreams of college.

The pull of mentorship eventually became too great for Katie in 2015, when she decided to devote all of her time to helping students achieve their dreams, becoming a full-time ESM mentor and a member of the executive team.  

She currently mentors high school students in the college application process as well as prospective MBA students. Katie’s first-hand experience in the MBA applications process makes her an invaluable resource to those hoping to gain acceptance to their right-fit program.

Katie is constantly looking for her next long distance bike trip, triathlon, or marathon, but in the meantime she will continue to soak up all the west coast has to offer, enjoying her monthly trips to beautiful Sonoma wine country.