Ryan Cross: The Tower Center Made My Career Possible

My experience as a Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar laid a solid foundation for my broader SMU experience. By participating in Tower Center events and building close relationships with professors, the Center allowed me to start my career in the right direction. Currently, I work in Arlington, VA as a research analyst at a boutique consulting firm. I came into this job well-prepared by the variety of deep, hands-on projects I completed as a Tower Scholar.

SMU invests a staggering amount of resources in their students. Anytime I expressed interest in an academic or professional activity, SMU jumped to make it happen. From attending energy industry conferences at Rice University and at MIT, to studying abroad in Argentina, Peru and Chile, to travelling to Washington, DC for my public policy studies, SMU offered resources to pursue those activities. Through the Tower Center, I earned a Marian Tower Scholarship to study abroad and the Rubottom Foreign Service Scholarship. Many schools purport that they invest in students, but SMU delivers on this promise!

Staff at the Tower Center eagerly explained the breadth of internship opportunities available to me throughout Dallas. Their team connected me with the Mexican subsidiary of Hunt Consolidated, a large energy company. My semester-long internship in that workplace utilized my Latin American Studies and Spanish minors as I studied the trans-national energy sector of Texas and Mexico. It was here shadowing corporate leaders and researching policy in Latin American countries that I realized how I could put my knowledge of public policy and international affairs to use in the private sector.

Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars with Swanee Hunt

Today, I work as a research analyst at a consulting firm focusing on the airline industry. Just a few years ago, I took classes that involved conducting research on local businesses–in Dallas, this often means aviation companies due to the anchoring presence of two major airlines. At the time, I did not foresee how my assignments could be relevant to the real world. However, my current role as a research analyst means that those projects taught me skills that are directly applicable to my career.

Prior to arriving at SMU, I struggled to envision how my college experience would lead into a fulfilling career. The Tower Center provided me with ample opportunities to learn outside of the classroom and discover what sorts of professional opportunities align most closely with my interests. The faculty and staff took advantage of SMU’s connections to major corporations in the Dallas area in order to prepare me for the real world.

Ryan Cross ’18 graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and International Studies with a minor in Spanish. While at SMU, Ryan was also a member of the University Honors Program, the Hilltop New Century Scholars Program, Career Development Ambassadors, and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.


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