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Alumni Give Students a Rarely Seen Look at Wall Street

Monday, May 20, 2013

Long recognized as the financial capital of the world, there’s an energy surrounding Wall Street that’s unlike any other. A career in the Financial District is the goal of many young people, and for the 26 students from The Peter J. Tobin College of Business who participated in the Alumni Insider’s View (AIV)…Day on Wall Street, the path to “the Street” became a few steps shorter.

This innovative program brings current students together with successful alumni who work in major financial firms, offering them a behind-the-scenes look at the financial services industry. It features a full day of panel discussions, networking opportunities and visits to selected financial organizations, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the New York Stock Exchange.

“This is a very good opportunity for our students to come and experience some of the realities of what it’s like on Wall Street,” noted Victoria L. Shoaf, Ph.D., Dean of The Peter J. Tobin College of Business. “We have an amazing network of alumni, and they’re very willing to reach out and help our students by sharing what they’ve learned during their careers and letting them know about any openings they might have available at their companies. Having the chance to listen to alumni, both recent and more seasoned, gives the students a very good idea of what they should do to build their careers.”

The connection between the University and its alumni has always been strong. They want to remain a part of St. John’s, and see their involvement in programs like AIV…Day on Wall Street as a winning situation for themselves, the students, and the University.

“This event has been going on for many years,” said Scott Williams, Associate Vice President, Alumni Relations, "and it’s a great opportunity for students to learn from our alumni who are very successful in the financial industry. The alumni are able to impart their stories to the students, and can also provide them with opportunities for internships and potential jobs. And it works both ways. The alumni are really able to see the value of our students, and can keep them on their radar when the opportunity to hire a new employee arises. That works out well for everyone.”

For many St. John’s graduates, the commitment to making a difference for others is a time-honored practice, reminding them of when they themselves were students listening with rapt attention to the alumni who came back to share their insights about what life was like after graduation.

“The idea of alumni helping students is a long-standing tradition at St. John’s,” remarked Keynote Speaker Paul C. Wirth ’79CBA, Deputy Chief Financial Officer/Managing Director at Morgan Stanley. “I remember it was that way when I was a student.  Many years ago I sat in the same seats that the students are in today. I listened as successful alumni shared their experiences. It’s a tradition and an obligation for all of us as alumni to come back and do the same thing for the current students. St. John’s alumni definitely appreciate the importance of giving back.”

For Conor Nugent ’08TCB, ’10MBA, sharing his time and talents with the University is an obligation he takes very seriously. He readily acknowledges that St. John’s was instrumental in helping him into a rewarding career as an Investment Banker. As a young double alumnus, he knows the challenges faced by students looking to secure their first job, and is happy to do whatever he can to help them succeed.

“I came to events like this when I was a student,” he said, “because that was how I got to meet so many Wall Street professionals. They had such a variety of experiences and were so willing to share them with us. I counted those events as among the most valuable for me when I was a student. Alumni have so much to share with the students, and I really believe that we have an obligation to give back to St. John’s in whatever ways we can. St. John’s did a lot for me personally, and I’m happy for the opportunity to give back to current students in any way that I can.”

And the students definitely appreciate that special assistance.

Jamaris Harrell ’14TCB is hoping that her degree in Finance will lead her into the financial services industry after graduation. She knows that she will be well-prepared, and is grateful for whatever additional insights and suggestions the alumni who participate in this unique program can provide.  

“The idea of alumni coming back to help students really appeals to me,” she said. “The alumni still remember St. John’s. They told us that they’re successful and that St. John’s was a part of their success, so they want to help us be successful as well. The other thing that makes this program so special is how students get to network with the alumni. Making the right connections is so important for career success, especially when we’re just starting out, and it’s obvious that the alumni who take part in this program are willing to help us. And years from now, if I’m lucky enough to be successful, I’ll be glad to come back and do the same thing for other students.”