Building Connections in Finance

September 14, 2017


by
Stephanie Bucklin

When Reid Larkin ’19, a senior at Bowling Green State University, was trying to figure out his best career move after college, he attended a conference run by his fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi. There, Reid picked up a flyer that informed him about the Alpha Sigma Phi Mentor Network, a platform that connects fraternity alumni to current students.

Not sure what to expect, Reid set up a consultation with an array of mentors. Being a business major with a specialization in finance, Reid was motivated to find a career in the finance industry, though the number of options were daunting, and it was difficult to know where exactly to best focus his efforts.

The Alpha Sigma Phi Mentor Network offered Reid the chance to learn about several different areas of business—and figure out which ones might be best suited to him. “I’m planning for the next five years of my life, which obviously can change at any moment. There was a lot of information to take in,” Reid said. “This platform was one of the better things I could have done.”

However, Reid also knew one crucial fact about careers in finance. “Things change very quickly in the business world,” he explained. Reid needed to talk to someone who could relate to where he was in his career, and give him advice on how to manage those early career steps.

He found Jason Patel, a senior vice president who graduated from Rutgers University ten years ago, and is also a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi Mentor Network.  Jason was excited to hear about a platform that opened opportunities for students and alumni to talk, since that didn’t exist for him when he was a student.

“Overall, having that ability to have members in different areas around the country reach out to us is really powerful and really useful for everybody,” Jason said. 

Since Jason is just about ten years older than Reid, Jason could offer Reid important advice on how to approach internships, how to choose which geographical location to work in, and the benefits of financial certifications and grad schools. For instance, he recommended that Reid not enter grad school immediately, so he could get some real-world experience, but not to wait longer than five to ten years if he did decide to go back—because “often, after that amount of time, people are more reluctant to go back to school.”

Jason, Reid noted, was an especially useful mentor, given that he is relatively young and has had so many experiences and accomplishments in a short time. Jason also praised Reid, and noted that he loved the opportunity to connect with other fraternity members and students on the Alpha Sigma Phi Mentor Network.

Ultimately, Jason had this advice for his mentees: “Failure is completely acceptable,” he said. “From a career standpoint, so many people are afraid to fail. They need to not worry about that, and just go and do. Anytime anyone has ever failed, they will learn from that experience and they will become a much better candidate in the industry they’re looking to go into.”

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