Jay Allen '86, managing director at Credit Suisse in Boston, interviews Chiran Bhandari '13.
Jay Allen ’86, managing director at Credit Suisse in Boston, interviews Chiran Bhandari ’13.

A personal connection can be the difference between getting a job interview and having your résumé end up in the “thank you, but …” pile with hundreds of others.

With that in mind, the Colby Career Center and more than 70 alumni working in finance teamed up to present a networking and informational program in Boston for Colby students.

Dubbed “Paving the Road to a Future in Finance,” the day-long alumni-driven event was held Oct. 2. The program, which drew a busload of 50 students, included panel presentations, lunch at the Harvard Club, 15-minute speed interviews, and a mixer where finance alumni outnumbered the students. 

“It was interesting to hear about the path alumni took to get to where they are today—and it’s comforting to know it’s not always a direct route,” said Caitlin Vorlicek ’14. 

The goal was to give sophomores and juniors a start on the process of finding an internship in the finance sector. Seniors on the job track also attended.

Jay Allen ’86, managing director at Credit Suisse, spearheaded the event, reaching out to classmates and others in the field. He originally envisioned an afternoon-long affair with 10-15 students and five of his friends from the Class of ’86, but when Career Center Director Roger Woolsey said he could get a bus, they decided to increase the scale.

Allen considered the day a “chance for alumni to give back to the College” by sharing their experiences and passion for their careers with current students. Woolsey called the Paving the Road response from finance alums “exceptional.”

 “It was your initiative, your effort that brought this all together,” Woolsey told Allen and the other alumni who organized the event. 

Leaving campus at 7 a.m., students started their rounds in Boston at the investment firm of Eaton Vance, where Michael O’Brien ’00 and several of his colleagues gave an extensive presentation on the buy-side of investment banking, and what human resource departments look for in an interviewee. O’Brien, who has hired a graduate from the Class of 2010 and has two other Colby grads on his team, said, “My group is looking for someone with smarts. We are not just looking for experience.”

Lunch followed at the Harvard Club, where participants on an alumni panel told how they converted their Colby experience into successful careers in finance. 

Allen, Jim Garrity ’83, Toinette Rivas ’06, and Brendan Shea ’11, from Credit Suisse, and Jeff Bistrong ’84, Tyler Dewing ’99, Garin Arevian ’91, and Chris Zeien ’03 from Harris Williams & Co., described their firms, talked about their career paths, and detailed internship and job opportunities available at their respective investment banks.

Jean Guo '15 and Elizabeth Allen '15 speak with Jean Kroeck Aiken '87, managing director/strategic development at Interactive Data.
Jean Guo ’15 and Elizabeth Allen ’15 speak with Jean Kroeck Aiken ’87, managing director/strategic development at Interactive Data.

Then alumni put students in the hot-seat for 15-minute interviews, giving students a taste of the process. The day ended at the Union Club with a final finance alumni panel, including Garrity, Lou Geremia ’85, Matt Guy-Hamilton ’05, Ted Jenkins ’84, and Kate Lucier-O’Neill ’85, and moderated by James Meehan, Herbert E. Wadsworth Professor of Economics emeritus.  “It’s partly about getting a wake-up call and learning some of the language,” Allen said. “And getting students to start earlier … because you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

The bus arrived back at Colby just past 12:30 a.m., returning groggy students, some still attired in business casual, to the Hill. 

“There is no better way to learn about a specific industry … than from the people who do it every day,” said Nils Carlson ’15. “I think the program was a success and should continue.”

Allen said he expects the event will be repeated and hopes it can be expanded. “My idea is that this puts a challenge out to other alums in other career paths to do something similar,” he said. “It’ll be a lot easier to put together next time.”