Student and professor in the Bloomberg Lab

Career Conversations - Katie Fischer

Making Career Decisions? Take Time to Reflect and the Opportunities Will Follow

Katie Fischer

By Katie Fischer, Vice President, North America Head of Exchange Traded Derivatives, Operations, Northern Trust Corporation

Choose a major… pick a career… start a family… queue the anxiety and panic.

Am I making the right decisions? How do I know if I am going to like this? What if I don’t?

I remember telling my mom decades ago that I was going to get a degree in economics, and her response was, “Be something.” To this day, I can still hear her saying that to me. I often joke to her, “Mom, am I something yet?” To my mom, a degree in economics didn’t have a defined career path like that of a doctor, teacher, or lawyer. Or like those who choose a degree in finance and business.

Business, economics, and finance majors alike can find themselves countless opportunities across many industries, cities, countries, companies, and disciplines. I have been blessed enough to touch various facets of the financial industry, and still, I am not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

As you plan for your first job out of college or a pivot in your career, I recommend taking some time to reflect on the areas that you enjoy, those that you are good at, and those that you would like to explore. There are always opportunities if you are willing to put the time and effort into yourself.

When you are in the process of looking for that next move, I recommend that you:

  • Make a list of likes, dislikes, must haves and nice to haves.
  • Evaluate your soft skills — these are your opportunities to transfer skills easily across different functions. Most managers and teams are willing to invest time into you if you have the core development skills already.
  • Do what makes you happy and the money will come. This was a piece of advice I received from one of my professors when I was in college. I was on a trajectory at the time to go into law school when he asked me why. I truly couldn’t answer the question. It is eventually what landed me in my career today.

Be kind to yourself. Practice your response for the interview question about where you see yourself in five years, and be confident in your answer if you don’t know. The last couple of years have been challenging for everyone. We have pivoted our working style, demanded higher wages, and looked for work that brings us joy or meets our passion. Life is not intended to be linear, nor does your career path need to be.


Katie Fischer is vice president, North America head of exchange traded derivatives, operations, Northern Trust Corporation. She serves as a member of the Career Management Center Advisory Board at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business.

Posted October 6, 2022

Career Conversations is presented by the Stuart School of Business Career Management Center.

Stuart School of Business

565 West Adams Street | 4th Floor | Chicago, IL | 60661