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A financial forum yields a beneficial exchange

Keynote speaker John Beckelman ’15P shares a moment with Hui Bai, who earned a B.S. in finance last year and is now working on the New York Stock Exchange.

Three themes emerged recently when 34 alumni gave career advice to 160 students at the sixth annual Financial Forum of Lehigh’s Wall Street Council (WSC):

• Take your jobs as seriously as you take your college courses;
• Use the Lehigh alumni network;
• Strive to be helpful and likable person.

“People choose to work with people they like,” said John Beckelman ’15P, distinguished keynote speaker and a principal of Sandler O’Neill & Partners, L.P.

Andrew Fife ’85, WSC president, agreed.

“Your interactions as human beings will determine your success,” he said. “Never lose sight of that.”

Fife and Michael Connor ’80, ‘14P, CEO of Market News International, co-founded the WSC with fellow business alums 10 years ago to help alumni working in finance connect with each other and with current students.

WSC member Jennifer Miller ’82, portfolio manager specializing in international equity strategy for J.M. Hartwell, stressed the importance of helping students with an interest in Wall Street learn more about the complex world of finance.

“We try to help students discover which aspect of financial services they want to pursue and assist them with internships and permanent placement after graduation,” she said.

“The WSC Financial Forum is a tremendous networking opportunity for students interested in financial careers,” said Paul Brown, dean of the College of Business and Economics. “Opportunities like these help prepare students for success.”

“Be prepared, and learn from others”

Beckelman highlighted four sub-themes in his address: “Be truthful, be helpful and likable, hold yourself more accountable than others will, and prepare for the unexpected.”

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Beckelman decided at the last minute to meet with a client prior to their afternoon golf tournament instead of reporting to work in his World Trade Center office.

“Whatever it is in your generation,” he told students, “something like that is going to happen. So be prepared and learn from the experiences of others.”

The Forum also featured a Young Alumni Panel discussion and breakout sessions on financial topics. Research, sales and trading, and real estate were among the industry services discussed.

Jay Goldstein ‘80, director of recruiting and development at Tradition Energy, gave a “get-real” speech on how to land a job on Wall Street.

“Be open-minded and positive in every interview, give a firm handshake, and network with every Lehigh alum you can,” he said. He also gave students advice on how to optimize their online presence for recruiting purposes.

“Mr. Goldstein taught me I need to be respectful during interviews and ask thoughtful questions of potential employers,” said Chen Lui, a graduate student in analytical finance.

Thomas Dewick ’13, an economics and international relations major, agreed.

“I got a lot from Mr. Goldstein’s interview and career advice, and I learned a ton about financial services, especially research, which will give me a big leg up as I focus my ultimate career goals.”

Coming full circle

Elliot Feldman ’09, a member of the Young Alumni Panel, attended the Financial Forum as a student.

“I gained good insight into the state of Wall Street in the midst of the financial crisis in late 2008,” he said. “Getting a job on Wall Street isn’t easy, and hearing from those who have been successful and are involved in recruiting provides an invaluable resource for students.”

Feldman is one of many Lehigh students who have gotten jobs in part as a result of past WSC Financial Forums, said Fife.

“Lehigh alumni are very quick to try to help undergrads, and events like this help give them the framework to provide valuable advice on how students should conduct themselves and ultimately get the job.”


Photos by John Kish IV

Story by Elizabeth Shimer Bowers

Posted on Monday, October 01, 2012

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