Abbas Rizvi ’12 credits an internship experience for altering the trajectory of his career—placing him on a path completely different than the one he started on. Today, Rizvi works as a geriatric physician at Rush University Medical Group in Chicago, but he started at Butler as a finance major. 

He had an interest in medicine because of his father’s work as a radiologic technologist, but was uncertain if that curiosity would turn into a career. That’s where the internship came in. 

Encouraged by his career advisor, Jill Novotny-Steele ’86, MBA ’11, Rizvi applied for an accounting and finance internship with the Hoosier Oncology Group the summer before his senior year. The Hoosier Oncology Group, now the Hoosier Cancer Research Network, works with clinics that implement new treatments for various cancers, organizing data so it can eventually be presented to the FDA. 

At the time, Rizvi was leaning toward a career in business. “I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll just enjoy doing the finance aspect in a medical setting,’” he says. 

As an intern, he worked with the accounting department to provide financial projections and examined how to best expand the organization. Rizvi’s role also meant he was able to shadow meetings where the Chief Medical Officer presented findings on clinical trials. 

Listening to the doctors discuss their research fascinated him, Rizvi says. Most of all, he liked knowing that the treatments would eventually help patients. 

“Getting that opportunity at that moment pushed me toward what I was finding myself drawn to.
Those experiences can have such an impact.”

“I had been interested in medicine and had taken some of the prerequisites just in case,” Rizvi says. “But at that point I was beginning to think, ‘OK, this is really making me realize that I’d rather do the medicine than the finance part.’” 

Later, a second internship at an investment banking firm helped him discover what wasn’t for him, and reinforced what Rizvi had already been feeling after his time with the Hoosier Oncology Group. He liked helping people, and he wanted to do it as a doctor. 

Novotny-Steele, Rizvi’s assigned mentor through the Lacy School of Business, knew from the beginning that Rizvi was interested in potentially pursuing a career in medicine. During conversations in her office over the years, she had helped her mentee navigate the necessary coursework. By the time Rizvi was a senior, he had already taken a science course here, another there, intermingled with his business classes. Rizvi jokes he was the only senior among first-years in his Introduction to Biology class. 

Rizvi says he also received advice from Professor Bill Templeton, whose son was in the middle of a medical fellowship en route to becoming a doctor. 

“There was a lot of support,” Rizvi says. “They gave me guidance, conveying, ‘We understand you’re here now, but this is what you’re interested in.’” 

A few weeks after graduating from Butler with a degree in Finance, Rizvi took the MCAT. He passed, and later enrolled at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine for medical school. 

“My experiences made me realize it’s never too late to pursue anything, whether it’s going back to study more or deciding to change your field,” Rizvi says. “Wherever you start doesn’t have to be where you end up. Being a Finance major and being a physician now, it’s not a typical route that most people take, but I’m glad I was able to make it work.” 

Photograph by Jeff Haynes