Juilliard’s senior financial analyst, Irina Shteyn, was born in Ukraine and when she was 8, moved with her family to Brooklyn. She earned her bachelor’s in finance and marketing from Boston College and worked as a business management associate at JPMorgan before arriving at Juilliard a little more than two years ago. A year ago, Irina and her boyfriend signed up to help distribute supplies a few days after Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the Northeast. Though they’d seen a lot of coverage on the news, it was still shocking to see the damage in person. But what amazed them most was that so many of the people they came across were so positive. “They worked with their families and friends to clean out their houses over a few beers and even offered food and drinks to the volunteers passing by (and there were plenty of volunteers all over),” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen neighbors come together on the streets to support each other like that before.” You can see storm photos by Irina and other members of the Juilliard community at juilliard.edu/journal/superstorm-sandy-aftermath.
What do you remember about your first day at Juilliard?
I can’t remember if I was given the tour of the School on my first day here or a few days later, but either way, I remember being in complete awe. Coming from a finance background and having worked at an investment bank, I’d never seen performance spaces and conservatories up close like this. The Production Department was the most shocking for me—I had no idea Juilliard did most of the work in-house, and I loved walking through the wig, costume, and paint rooms.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
Now that I’m thinking about the tour, I think it would be interesting to do Kent McKay’s job for a day and be the director of the Production Department—although, I would need to magically learn more in a day than I could ever pick up in years. Shadowing him for a while wouldn’t be so bad either.
What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had and what made it so?
I spent my summers during college working at a dog-grooming shop. While like any other business, it can get a bit stressful, I just found it almost impossible to have a bad day being surrounded by cute dogs all the time.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do?
I’d probably go up to Mohonk Preserve for its hiking and rock scrambles. It’s a really relaxing hike intertwined with challenging scrambles. I highly recommend it for any hikers who want a little adventure on the trail. There are also many good restaurants (surprisingly a bunch of German ones) and breweries nearby to end the day.
Many Juilliard staff members are also artists; are you?
Unfortunately this does not apply to me, but not for the lack of trying! During my childhood I attempted to learn several forms of dancing and to play several instruments, but in the end I was not cut out for any of it.
What was the best vacation you’ve had?
About a year ago I went to Peru to hike the Inca Trail, and while it’s hard to pick the best vacation, this one definitely stands out. The hike was very difficult, possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done voluntarily (mentally and physically), but the views and the history made it completely worth it. Working so hard to go up and down the mountains seems to make all your problems disappear and creates a great way to really bond with the friends on the trip. After four days of hiking and learning about the history of the Incas, the view of Machu Picchu was absolutely breathtaking when reached at sunrise.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
Two of my biggest passions are traveling and food, which conveniently go very well together. I love to explore new places and cultures through their local cuisines. There are very few places in the world that I wouldn’t go to and cuisines I wouldn’t try, but right now I’m realizing how little of North America I’ve seen and am trying to travel more here.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I’ve always wanted to own my own restaurant or cafe. While it’s not something that will happen anytime soon, I’m always looking for ideas for when I’m ready to take that leap.
What book are you reading/blogs are you following/music are you listening to?
When the TV show Game of Thrones started, I decided I wanted to read the books before watching it, but I didn’t realize what a commitment it was, as some parts can be pretty slow. I had to take a break and read a few books in between, but at the moment I’m continuing my quest. As for music, I’ve recently been listing to Alabama Shakes and Chairlift a lot. I don’t follow blogs closely, but look at cooking ones now and then for inspiration as I’m trying to expand my kitchen skills!
What’s your favorite thing about New York City?
I think it’s great that you can be in a room with hundreds of people and everyone can have a completely different weekend experience to talk about. There are not many cities in the world that can offer this.