MBA Candidate – NYU Stern School of Business
I worked for a hedge fund for the first three years out of PBA doing investment research and trading across global equity, fixed income, commodity, and foreign exchange markets. It was an exciting time during which I learned much about the world and human behavior. This drove my desire to pursue an MBA, in which I am specializing in quantitative finance.
The well-paved career highways such as investment banking, consulting, or corporate finance, however alluring, may not be the best fit for you. I learned from the writings of one of my heroes, Ray Dalio, that what matters in your career is that you find meaningful work and meaningful relationships. Finding these takes a lot of trial and error so don’t stay stagnate trying to figure out what the one correct career move is straight out of graduation. Find something at least marginally interesting, and dive in. Once you have learned everything you can possibly learn in that role, move on.
"Build strong relationships both within and outside of your organization."
Some of the most meaningful, and supportive relationships I have today were formed at PBA. The people I have around me now inspire and motivate me to achieve everything that I’m capable of reaching in my professional life. I credit PBA for creating the environment that attracted these people with such diverse talents and goals to its campus. One professor sticks out during my time at PBA with whom I still have a close relationship - Craig Hanson. Craig challenged me to question every single one of my beliefs and taught me what it meant to have intellectual integrity. He taught me how to be comfortable with being wrong and instilled in me the habit of seeking all possible perspectives on any given issue to develop better informed beliefs. I am forever indebted to him for the impact he made on my life.
Build strong relationships both within and outside of your organization. Spend some of your free time learning a new skill like coding, data science, or design. Read constantly, and not just things that are immediately related to your work or existing interests. However, I have one major caveat to reading a lot: it is better to read and apply one book than to read ten and apply none of them. Finally, seek out thoughtful disagreement with people around you who think differently than you do now. You will learn more this way than you could ever possibly imagine.
Yes. Finding a mentor whom you respect and is at least ten times smarter than you is quite possibly the best thing you can do for yourself and your career. In addition to a mentor, there are other relationships you should be developing. Here is a great video outlining the difference between and importance of having a mentor, a sponsor, and an advisor, of which each plays a distinct but crucial role in your career development: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYSNkf3lkas.
Spotlight posted in February 2018. For current updates from Scott, visit his LinkedIn page.