One of the many incredible things about UVA and McIntire is the alumni community. There are countless UVA graduates working in all areas of business, technology, and entrepreneurship who love to come back to Grounds to connect with students. Every year, there are a number of opportunities to meet and talk to members of this diverse network. In November, one of these opportunities was McIntire’s Careers in Finance Forum. This post is going to walk you through the day and leave you with some guidance on how to navigate these events if you decide to attend the M.S. in Commerce Program.
The schedule was set up for each company to present and take questions for 45 minutes. After each speaker, there was a 15-minute break for students to grab donuts outside or talk to any of the presenters. The day started with JP Morgan Global Wealth Management, followed by Guggenheim Partners, Makena Capital Management, and The Blackstone Group. Each speaker, a former McIntire student, made a point of mentioning how their time at the School gave them the tools to be successful in their current job.
The presentations were focused around two things: what the job entailed and where the industry is heading. Each presenter did a fantastic job describing their roles and reminding the audience that there is no set path in a career. The takes on the future of each industry were very interesting parts of the conversation for me. While each subset of financial services has their own outlook, there were two consistent themes throughout the day: the importance of technology and the desire for intellectually curious employees. These takeaways reinforce the sentiments we hear both from faculty and Commerce Career Services, so it was great to hear it echoed by professionals in the industry.
After the Blackstone presentation, there was a long break for a lunch and networking. This time of day was the most valuable for students who attended; getting facetime with these professionals is a necessary first step in forging relationships and building networks. Each company had a booth set up where students could speak with the presenters as well as younger alumni, who would make up a panel later in the afternoon.
The second half of the day followed the same format, with presentations from Bank of America Investment Banking and Citi FinTech. The evening wrapped up with a panel of young professionals and was a unique opportunity to hear from young men and women who are new to the workplace. The talk centered around the transition from an academic setting to a professional one, the challenges each faced in their first few months, and advice they had for students.
There were many great soundbites from the session, but two stood out to me. First, always show up prepared and on time. It sounds so simple, but there are so many who fail to do one or both. Second, learn something every day. Regardless of whether your job has a formal training program or not, there is only so much you can cover during work hours. Don’t be afraid to spend time off the clock learning new skills; this is often what gives you an advantage down the line.
McIntire provides endless opportunities to meet and network with professionals all over the world. What’s better, they want to meet and talk with you as well. As a student here you have incredible resources at your disposal, and this forum was a great reminder of that. Thanks for tuning in! You can connect with a student ambassador as well to learn more.