LIFTing Others to Financial Freedom

PROVO, Utah – Dec 17, 2021 – As a child, Kami Mak grew up with limited finances, and her family was unaware of the resources available to help their financial situation. Wanting to ensure greater financial freedom and stability for her future, Mak decided to learn as much as she could about money management and budgeting. Through the help of a mentor, this BYU Marriott School of Business senior grew from a financial novice to an up-and-coming expert now working as a financial analyst intern at a multinational technology company.  

While growing up in an immigrant family in Fremont, California, as a first-generation Asian-American, Mak noticed that many immigrant families experienced financial difficulty due to what she describes as “a lack of access to information and helpful resources on managing finances.” This realization sparked Mak’s desire to pursue a degree in finance at BYU Marriott to enable her to provide mentorship to immigrant families and teach them the financial knowledge she wishes her family could have had. “There are so many resources for families that go unused simply because people do not know about them,” Mak says. 

While applying to the finance program, Mak met then-BYU Marriott finance senior Carissa Ko, who mentored her through the application process. “I came from a background where financial jargon and processes were unfamiliar to me,” says Mak. “Having a mentor available to answer my questions and encourage me played a vital role in helping me understand that I was capable of succeeding. I hope to one day provide that same mentorship to others.”  

During her first semester in the junior core, Mak struggled to find an internship during the onset of COVID-19. After applying to several companies without receiving any offers, Mak received a text from Ko, who encouraged her to apply for an intern position at Cisco, where Ko was working. 

Mak sent in her application to Cisco and was eventually offered a position as a financial analyst intern. She joined a team of 19 other interns as a part of the company’s Leaders in Finance and Technology program (LIFT). Mak explains that the LIFT program is designed to train interns to become future leaders in the industry through exposure to a variety of finance experiences. 

During her internship, Cisco asked Mak and the rest of the intern team to create a three-year profit and loss (P&L) forecast analyzing the potential benefit of Cisco incorporating 5G wireless technology into its business operations. The team members conducted their own research and met with Cisco’s employees to learn how to successfully complete the forecast.  

“This was my first experience with P&L forecasting,” says Mak. “I had to expand the limits of my knowledge and comfort zone, which enabled me to learn challenging concepts.” At the conclusion of her internship, Mak was offered a full-time position as a financial analyst with Cisco, beginning after her graduation from BYU Marriott in April 2022. 

Mak views her future job with Cisco as the launchpad to achieving her dream of bringing financial literacy to immigrant families such as her own. She hopes to master financial concepts so that she can bring the best tools and principles to the nonprofit sector for immigrant families. “I have not forgotten where I came from,” says Mak. “Because one student chose to mentor me through the finance program, I feel prepared to build a successful life and career. I hope to be a similar catalyst of change for students and families like mine to succeed.”  

Kami Mak. Photo courtesy of Kami Mak.
Kami Mak. Photo courtesy of Kami Mak.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kaylee Hepburn