As the largest department of the University of Delaware Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the Department of Finance has a team of faculty and staff who create ideas and create the best balance of programming for their students. Linking quality teaching with extracurricular activities is paramount.
This group recently gave the students another experience with the first Transformational Experiences in Finance (TEF) program. TEF is among a number of initiatives the faculty offers students to provide smaller-group experiences that help them become more engaged in finance learning and building a transformative finance career.
Towards the end of the 2022 spring semester, Paul Laux, a finance professor, and Howland Redding, an adjunct professor, escorted a group of 16 students on a day trip to New York City to tour an investment banking firm, a wealth manager, and meet with alumni meet people who work in these 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 and build 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 beyond by providing our students with the opportunity to to share our diverse student, alumni, and external financial community TEF experiences. We hope our students feel engaged and an active part of our community.”
As part of the trip, the students toured Axonic Capital and had a question and answer session with Chris Hughes, Axonic’s Chief Operating Officer and a 2002 graduate of Lerner. Hughes also hosted students for lunch at Axonic. The students later visited Aflac Global Investments, where they were welcomed by another UD graduate, Jaime Rizzo.
Rizzo, now head of public credit at Aflac Global Investments, graduated from UD in 1994 with a major in art history 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 a form of giving back that he enjoys doing.
“Opening the learner programs beyond the classroom provides an excellent opportunity for students to hear different perspectives on what to expect as they begin their career journey,” said Rizzo.
“I remember after graduating from college how confused I was about what career path to take. Over 25 years later, I’m glad I have enough experience to provide guidance to current students, and as an alumni, seeing our students succeed is a priority for me. Also, the university is a very special place for me where I have a lot of great memories, so it is important to me to be able to give something back to the school.”
Lerner Honors student Brielle Glick, who is scheduled to graduate in 2023, has a double degree in finance and business analytics with a minor in entrepreneurship. She said that meeting with alumni and professionals was the most interesting part of the trip as they all had different personalities, which didn’t fit the mold she expected.
“Some of them dressed more creatively than others who were more formal, but they all worked in New York and they all worked in a position that had to do with finance, whether it was more of a business or accounting orientation,” Glick said. She is doing a lending internship at Citibank, said she has a 3.9 GPA and was one of the outstanding groups of freshmen, sophomores and juniors who attended.
Glick said she gained insights from conversations with professionals in New York that differed from discussing case studies in the classroom. She said that all the speakers have their thoughts on the looming recession, inflation and interest rates, but that she needs to see that finance is more than investment banking, just from a trader’s perspective.
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 early in his career, but at a certain point, once you’re known enough for your skills, for what you can actually achieve and you have credibility for your name, that stuff isn’t so important,” said Glick. “I think, in my head, I was like, I have to dress every day for the rest of my life.”
As part of the TEF initiative, the department has offered several opportunities for students to get involved throughout the school year. The department hosted a movie night where the students had dinner together and watched a film about finance, and then had brief chats with alumni. Students mingled with investment banking professionals who visited campus to talk about navigating the job market. At another event, the students were invited to a breakfast networking event to meet two very successful investment bankers who were presenting an investment banking interview preparation seminar.
The department secured 11 free registrations for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) conference in the spring semester. At the conference, the students learned about regulatory issues in finance. It usually costs $500 to attend the conference.
Glick’s internship at Citibank is a snapshot of real-world experiences that Lerner prepared her for in the classroom, with the trip to New York as an added lesson.
“I’m always keen to take any opportunity that comes my way outside of the classroom where I can easily get a glimpse of other people who have done this before and see what they have gained from their work experience” said Glick, a member of Lerner’s Private Equities Club who is still trying to decide whether she wants to go into investment banking or entrepreneurship after she graduates.