Stepping Stones, Milestones & Relationships

by John on April 16, 2016

I just returned from five days in New York City with 10 of FIU Business’ top students. This was the third time in 6 years that I’ve led students to the city and every time I go, I learn something new. Now it’s nothing earth shattering, but still, learning is truly a life-long process and this trip was no different.

During the first trip in 2012, which was by all accounts done by some very heavy lifting, the theme was about alternate careers in the financial word. You didn’t need to be an “I-banker” to be truly successful in the space. The best quote from one of my former students was rather striking: “I don’t know if I want to dedicate my life to working hours and hours for a bank that may not value my hard work and contributions” Poignant thoughts indeed.

In 2014 it was all about managing risk and maximizing Alpha. For the HR pros who are wondering just what the heck I mean by that it’s simply a performance metric of an investment compared to a market index. The greater the Alpha, the greater the reward in for an assumed risk.

This years trip theme centered around relationships. I found it to be a recurring theme from the presenters at the various firms, and the conversations that the students were having amongst themselves.

“Relationships Matter” one student commented. Interesting observations from such young and impressionable minds that have yet to enter the workforce full time. They weren’t just saying the words, they truly meant it. They hustled, networked, shook hands, and were incredibly driven to achieve their dreams of working in the world of finance.

Me? I made some notes, networked, and was in the background smiling. I was incredibly proud of how they were learning not only those very visible lessons, but also the ones not so visible. Here was a group learning how to navigate a big city, show up on time, wearing the appropriate attire, and asking very pointed and direct questions. I’m convinced that even my youngest students (sophomores with really high GPAs) learned the value of time and place.

There are days when I wonder if I’m making a difference in the lives of our students? If all the hard work will eventually pay off for them and for the College? Will the students be able to bounce back with a resiliency that will not deter them from achieving their goals?

This trip answered all of my questions and yet prompted an entire series of new ones. But I do know that my first question was answered…

I am making a difference. One crazy day at a time.

And that my dear friends, is one hell of an Alpha.

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