Sharon Yen is a Sr. Financial Institution Policy Analyst within the Federal Reserve Board’s Financial Reporting and Control section, overseeing the quarterly and annual financial reporting process of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks and consolidated financial results that are audited and published publicly. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in Accounting, from the University of California, Riverside and an M.A. in International Economic Policy, with a concentration in International Business, from the George Washington University. Prior to the Federal Reserve Board, Sharon worked at The Walt Disney Company as a financial reporting analyst, consolidating financial results for the games, consumer products, and broadcast television segments. She is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker and studied abroad for a summer in Beijing, China during her undergrad career. While at the George Washington University, she interned at the Department of Commerce and Council of Economic Advisers.
Describe your current position and what made you interested in applying?
For the past 2.5 years, I have been working at the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) as a Sr. Financial Institution Policy Analyst within the Financial Reporting and Control section. My team has an oversight responsibility of the quarterly and annual financial reporting process for the 12 Federal Reserve Banks scattered across the nation. Our biggest project each year is collaborating with all 12 Federal Reserve Banks to produce their respective annual financial statements as well as the consolidated financial results that are audited and published to the public. I was interested in applying to the FRB because of its reputation and the significant impact its decisions and policies have on consumers, households, businesses, and American and world economies. Not to mention, I am able to use my undergrad degree in accounting and grad degree in international economic policy in this particular role. There are few public-serving organizations out there with such a far-reaching economic influence that also allows me to use my knowledge and skills in the two worlds of accounting and international economic policy, and I’ve been really enjoying it!
What do you wish other people knew about your organization?
Although the FRB has come under criticism and scrutiny more recently, I like that the organization is apolitical and bi-partisan, standing solely by its mission to serve the public interest and promote the health of the U.S. economy by implementing monetary policies. Everyone that I’ve collaborated with at the FRB and Federal Reserve Banks is so motivated and smart, which drives me further to grow professionally. Additionally, the FRB hosts many outreach programs, virtually and in-person, to reach students from colleges and universities across the nation. I’m part of the Board Ambassadors program, and I appreciated that we have held information sessions geared specifically towards Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to encourage more diversity among new hires and thought. There was another unique networking series we put on, where students were paired one-on-one with Board Ambassadors for a resume review, which was not only a great opportunity for getting professional feedback on your resume but also meeting current employees at the FRB. I would recommend keeping an eye out if you are interested in these types of events and more!
What Elliott School courses would you recommend for students interested in your field and why?
Because I have an academic background and work experience in the business field, I wanted to stay along those lines and ventured out to take some MBA courses with the GW School of Business, aside from the required Elliott School and MIEP courses. As such, my academic path may have looked a little different from most of my peers and current Elliott School students. In terms of Elliot School courses, I found the professional skills courses to be very rewarding as it not only allows you to expand your network and meet peers outside your M.A. program, but it also encourages development of skills that are useful in the workplace, regardless of whether you end up in the public or private sector. The two professional skills courses I took were Public Speaking and Writing for International Affairs Professionals. The course names may have changed since I graduated but these were popular classes among my peers. Good public speaking and writing skills are used in any organization, any field, and any level of your career.
What was your experience with the job search post-graduation? Can you provide any wisdom for students starting their job search?
My post-graduation job search may have been a little abnormal compared to other alumni and current students as I graduated in 2020, during the height of COVID. I went back home to California when COVID started and was mass applying for jobs online. With the uncertainty of COVID at that time, I thought I would remain in California – I was very much in the mindset of the present and the thought of planning where I would physically be located after the peak of COVID passed did not at all cross my mind. Fortunately, I was already frequently visiting the Elliott School’s Graduate Student Services (GSS) and meeting with my academic advisor regularly prior to when the world and everything on campus moved to a virtual setting so that when my first round interview with the FRB came, I felt confident and ready to go. This is a reminder to take advantage of GSS during your time at the Elliott School because the staff and services offered are there to assist you in landing that job after graduation and helping you succeed!
What was the most rewarding aspect of your time at the Elliott School?
The location of GW is key and was the biggest factor of why I decided to attend the Elliott School. GW’s location in the heart of Washington DC, where international affairs matters are discussed, debated, and implemented just a few blocks away, means that there are knowledgeable professors who are experienced in their fields and most likely working in the same organizations that you are interested in applying to. It also means that your peers are interning or working at organizations you can ask them for more information on. Additionally, the events that GSS hosts are unbeatable, with a wide variety that includes speaker series, information panels, and networking events that feature professionals only working a few doors down from your classrooms. The convenient location of the school also provided flexibility in my schedule so that commuting between an internship and class was possible and not stressful!
Tell us about your pet!
I have a German Shepherd mix named Lucy! Don’t laugh but we got her a dog DNA test and technically, she’s 75% German Shepherd, with Dalmatian and American Staffordshire making up the remaining 25%. It’s an odd combo but just imagine a dog with a German Shepherd coat and floppy Lab ears! She’s the sweetest and is always hungry. We enjoy going on hikes together, exploring new trails and frequenting old ones. I love that I have a hiking buddy who enjoys it as much as I do, while we both can get some exercise in. She lives with my brother in California, while I’m currently located in northern Virginia so I see her when I go home and miss her the other times but I get plenty of pictures and news of her to know what she’s been up to. When we go hiking, we head towards the mountains at the back of my parents’ house in California, where there’s not many people or dogs so we let Lucy off leash. She has a great time exploring and following her nose. We both enjoy spending our weekends outside and in the sun!
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The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights graduate program alumni to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at email@example.com.
The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.