The School of Economics and Business Administration was well represented at the Dine with Alums career networking event this November. The annual event, hosted by the Alumni Association, not only offers undergraduate students a tremendous opportunity to ask alumni questions about life after graduation, but it also affords alumni an opportunity to give back in an immediate and direct way.
Over the course of three hours—including dinner and a keynote address by Peter Kelly ’98—students had the opportunity to meet with alums from 28 different fields. Undergraduates spoke with alums about the trial and error process of campus interviews, career false starts, and leaving Saint Mary’s.
Ryan Ring, M.S. Financial Analysis and Investment Management ’08 and Jason Greenland ’04, both of Wells Fargo, suggested the students participate in as many interviews as possible. Not only would this make students more confident and relaxed in interviews going forward, but it also would give them a much clearer vision of what a particular job or field looks like.
“Plus, interviews only get tougher as you move up the ranks,” said Ring.
Greenland suggested that students build and utilize their networks to set up informational interviews in their fields of interest. Greenland recalled how he began as a bank teller before leveraging his network to move into his current position as a regional finance advisor.
Ring recounted a similar experience. “At the end of each interview, I asked for the names of three more people I could talk to. I asked for business cards. I expanded my network,” he said. Eventually his connections paid off. Ring now works as wealth advisor.
While alums wanted to inspire students, there was a healthy dose of reality too. When asked how to best to get a foot in the door at a financial firm, Ring responded that taking a position as an assistant or an associate is worth consideration.
“You may have to get someone coffee,” said Ring. “But you’re also learning the business from the inside and building trust with your firm. After some time there, you can take your licensing exams and take on the role of a junior advisor.”
“I loved this event,” said Ring. “I feel like I’m at point in my career where I can lend some value. If I can help these students, be it with advice or with networking—any value that I can lend, I’m willing to help.”
“I think it takes some pressure off of the students,” said Larry Todd ’06. “These are young people who might not know what the real world looks like; I think it’s good to give them some perspective and advice.” Todd is an account executive at Salesforce.com and represented SEBA at the sales table.
For Ring and Todd this was their first time participating in the Dine with Alums event. Both said they were looking forward to coming back next year.