As the largest department in the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the Department of Finance has a team of faculty and staff who brainstorm and craft the best balance of programming for their students. Pairing quality class instruction with extracurricular activities is paramount.
That group recently gave students another experience with the inaugural Transformational Experiences in Finance (TEF) program. TEF is one of a series of initiatives that faculty offer to students to provide smaller group experiences that help them feel more engaged in learning finance and building transformational financial careers.
Near the end of the 2022 spring semester, Paul Laux, a professor of finance, and Howland Redding, an adjunct faculty member, escorted a group of 16 students to New York City for a day trip to tour an investment banking firm, an asset manager , and to meet with alumni who work in those industries.
“We created the Transformational Experiences in Finance program to help students learn about finance careers from professionals in the field, and we want them to connect with each other, building networks with students, faculty and alumni,” said Laura Field, the Donald J. Puglisi Professor of Finance, “Our goal is to make the UD experience transformative for our students, not just in the classroom but also beyond it, by providing opportunities for our students to engage with other students, alumni and the external financial community through our various TEF experiences. Our hope is that our students feel engaged and an active part of our community.”
As part of the trip, students toured Axonic Capital, and had a question and answer session with Chris Hughes, chief operating officer of Axonic and a Lerner 2002 graduate. Hughes also hosted students for lunch at Axonic. Students later toured Aflac Global Investments, where another UD alumnus, Jaime Rizzo, greeted them.
Rizzo, now head of public credit for Aflac Global Investments, graduated UD in 1994 as an art history major and then transitioned into business after leaving Delaware. He has an MBA from UNC Charlotte and a masters in accounting from Baruch College. Helping UD students is one form of giving back that he gladly does.
“Opening up the Lerner programs beyond the classroom provides an excellent opportunity for students to hear different perspectives on what they can expect as they embark on their career journey,” Rizzo said.
“I remember how confused I was upon college graduation with what career path I should pursue. Over 25 years later, I am glad I have enough experience to provide some guidance to current students and as an alumni it is a priority for me to see our students succeed. Additionally, the University is a very special place to me where I have many great memories so it is important for me to be able to give back to the school.”
Lerner Honors student Brielle Glick, who is scheduled to graduate in 2023, is a double major in finance and business analytics, with a minor in entrepreneurship. She said that meeting alumni and working professionals was the most interesting part of the trip, because they all had different personalities, which did not fit the mold that she expected.
“Some of them dressed more creatively than others who were more formal, but they were all working in New York and they were all working in a position that involves finance, whether it was a more economics outlook or a more accounting outlook,” Glick said . She is interning in loan operations at Citibank, said she has a 3.9 GPA and was one of the standout group of freshmen, sophomores and juniors who participated.
Glick said she gained insight from speaking with professionals in New York, which was different from going over case studies in the classroom. She said all of the speakers gave their thoughts on a looming recession, inflation and interest rates, but that she needed to see that finance was more than investment banking from the standpoint of just being a trader.
She said she was surprised to meet an established professional wearing a black T-shirt, jewelry and ripped jeans.
“He mentioned that he wouldn’t have done that at the start of his career, but at a certain point, once you become well known enough for your skill set, for what you can actually accomplish and you have credibility to your name, that stuff doesn’t really matter as much,” Glick said. “I guess in my head I was thinking I have to dress up everyday for the rest of my life.”
As part of the TEF initiative, the department has offered several opportunities for students to engage throughout the school year. The department hosted movie night, where students had dinner together and watched a finance-related movie and then spoke with alumni briefly. Students mingled with investment banking professionals who visited campus to speak with them about navigating the job market. In another event, students were invited to a breakfast networking event to meet two highly-successful investment bankers who presented a seminar on how to prepare for a job interview in the investment banking profession.
The department secured 11 free registrations to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) conference during the spring semester. At the conference, students learned about regulatory issues in finance. Normally, the cost to attend the conference is $500.
Glick’s internship with Citibank is a snapshot of real-world experience that Lerner has prepared her for inside the classroom, with the trip to New York as an added lesson.
“I am always interested in taking on any opportunity that’s offered to me that’s outside of the classroom where I can kind of just get some insight from other people who have gone through it before and see what they gained from their work experience,” said Glick , a member of Lerner’s Private Equities Club, who is still trying to decide if she wants to do investment banking or entrepreneurship when she graduates.