Thomas Nance stepped up as the “man of the house” when his father left to serve with the Army Reserve in Iraq during Nance’s senior year of high school. As the only child left at home, he felt the need to take care of his mother and prepare more carefully for a future career and adult life. Although his three older siblings had graduated from college, Nance graduated high school without having applied to a university. He felt a lack of direction regarding where to attend college but after speaking with an education counselor, Nance enrolled for a summer term at BYU followed by night classes during fall semester.
While attending BYU, Nance solidified his testimony of the Church with religion classes that supported his desire to serve a mission. He departed in 2006 to serve in Yerevan, Armenia, where he learned of and grew to love a culture different than his own. Nance was welcomed by warm, hospitable people with a passion for life he had not witnessed in the United States. In addition to growing spiritually, he became convinced he wanted to learn more about the culture of the Middle East and perhaps work internationally. Nance became close with an American family on his mission who worked as a diplomat for the U.S. Embassy. The family had moved from Moscow to Kuwait to Beijing for work and that kind of travel interested Nance. Returning home from his mission, he was eager to explore the international world and quickly declared an international relations major.
“While his mission opened his eyes to a new world, it was Model United Nations that taught Nance to see the world from a global perspective.”
While his mission opened his eyes to a new world, it was Model United Nations that taught Nance to see the world from a global perspective. The class helped Nance form a habit of checking international current events daily, and taught him debate, communication, and leadership skills that eventually benefited him on a professional level. The class prepared Nance and his classmates for the mock UN competition in New York, where they worked with other schools to draft resolutions to aid in solving international issues. Nance and his partner were one of only five out of 219 partnerships awarded a committee award at the end of the competition, and he came away with valuable experience that helped prepare him for future career options.
In 2009, Nance received an internship as a junior Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium. He worked in the political section of the embassy and gained valuable professional work experience. As an intern, he saw the need for Arabic speakers to fill government positions and switched from international relations to a Middle East Studies/Arabic major.
Although he enjoyed his Foreign Service internship, Nance wasn’t fully committed to working for the government. While exploring career options, a friend mentioned he might look into an internship with Goldman Sachs. Upon researching, he found Goldman Sachs’ operations division targeted diversified majors, and surprisingly, non-business majors were more likely to be hired than he previously thought. By connecting with former BYU students who worked for Goldman Sachs, this network assisted him in receiving an internship offer at Goldman Sachs’ Salt Lake City office. And his Model UN experience was another factor that set him apart from other candidates during the interview process.
The environment at Goldman Sachs was different than that of the embassy in Belgium. While both internships gave him valuable life and work experience, his time at Goldman Sachs provided a more competitive, efficient, fast-paced learning environment. He could see tangible results of his work there, and that kind of impact increased his motivation to work hard. He felt a sense of ownership for his work and enjoyed the opportunity to prove his worth to an important company. Following his internship, Nance was offered a full-time position as an analyst at Goldman Sachs beginning July 2012.
The MESA major requires a semester abroad, which Nance completed this fall in Amman, Jordan. The program consists of intensive language, current event, newspaper translation, and presentation classes; daily one-on-one speaking appointments with an Arab professor; and required homework assignments that include reading and translating newspaper articles at least two hours a day and speaking with natives two hours a day outside of school.
Dedicated persistence and a strong work ethic were crucial during his undergraduate study. Nance chose to combine international study and work with his BYU experience, which provided multiple opportunities to learn and grow from the study of other cultures, all of which have helped shape his character.