Traveling from Washington, D.C. and New York City, Edward Whitehouse ’12, Brandon Kumar ’12, Swetha Sanagavarapu ’13 and Rachel Gankiewicz ’13 returned to campus to talk with students about life after Peddie. Over brunch, the four alums shared their experiences starting careers in finance and reflected on skills learned during both college and their time at Peddie that paid off as they started their jobs.
Rachel, an analyst and portfolio specialist at BlackRock, noted that despite all the technical expertise gained in coursework and internships, “Your soft skills like communication, building relationships and emotional IQ are the assets that really set you apart.” In her role at BlackRock, Rachel collaborates with financial advisors and other financial professionals, and these interpersonal skills allow her to thrive.
Another soft skill valuable to their careers is scrappiness. As Brandon, an investment associate at Accolade, put it: “Hard work is part of success.” He told the students that their future bosses will value their ability to finish assignments, but top performers always have a drive to go beyond that. “Search out new challenges and new projects,” Brandon said. “Once you do what is expected, see what else is out there!”
Students in attendance had the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from the alums regarding their own school and career paths."It was truly a pleasure to learn the importance of networking and gaining insight on ways to develop relationships and maintain relationships," said Kishan Vyas '20.
When asked about getting into the world of finance, all four agreed that certain paths might be more straightforward. For example, going to a college that is visited by Wall Street recruiters certainly makes internships more accessible. Ed, an analyst for Ipreo, explained that networking could also jump-start careers. Whether it is connecting to a fellow Falcon, an alumna of their college or even a friend of a friend – a Peddie student can find opportunities and learn a lot during a quick coffee. “But,” warned Ed, “networking isn’t just showing up and asking the questions you prepared. It is about listening, responding and forming a connection with the person across from you.”
As the conversation turned to day-to-day activities and the reputation of finance as an industry with long hours, especially for junior employees, all four alumni emphasized effective planning as essential. They each have found a schedule that works for them and credit their time at Peddie for providing a strong time management foundation. Swetha, an analyst with Evercore, recalled that as a freshman at Peddie, she tried to do everything but had to learn to have “introspective time management” to prioritize what matters to her. She advised students to “take the time to think about where you want to be; don’t simply follow along the path in front of you.”