This past August, I was given the opportunity to promote the Graduate Finance & Investment Group to the incoming students at the UIC Liautaud Graduate School of Business Fall Orientation. It gave me pause to reflect on where I was academically, and professionally only 12 months ago: seeking a career change, working exhausting hours, and wondering if I had the time to complete the MBA program successfully. Little did I know that by committing more of my time to causes outside of my direct benefit that I would be in a new career field, working very reasonable hours, representing the CFA Society of Chicago as their Liaison to UIC, have had the opportunity to lead a team for a pro-bono consulting group project (InKind), be president of a Finance Club that I co-founded, and be studying for the level one CFA exam in addition to my course load all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. If someone would have told me this is where I would be, I would have told them they were dreaming. But it happened, and it can happen for you, too!
These things all came to be through a series of events that could never be planned. I signed up for a Finance Group that was inactive, and had no access to their media sites. So, I requested a board meeting and after due diligence, we formed what is now the Graduate Finance & Investment Group at UIC Liautaud (naming was adjusted as requested by counsel). Through the same due diligence I connected with the founders of the former Finance Club (GFIN, Graduate Finance Interest Network), who were able to share some suggestions including connecting with the CFA Society Chicago. Through the CFA Society we were introduced to independent equity research, and have been able to learn from industry professionals giving their critiques of our research.
The connection with the CFA Society of Chicago has opened many chances to further the networking opportunities of students interested in Finance at UIC Liautaud. We invite speakers to share their experiences, and we have been invited to the CFA Society Chicago's Headquarters as a guest of the CFA Women's Network. Students were also able to participate in the CFA Institute's Research Challenge.
Through making an appointment with Jeff Wilson at the Business Career Center, I was able to focus my career search through a multi-pronged approach of networking, online searches, and networking! This has proven to be far more valuable than I ever imagined. The position I accepted came as a direct result of following this approach, and was one of three offers I received! I also have no doubt that the people I connected with through the networking process will cross my path again as I move along my new career path.
Now we are entering a new academic year as a fully registered student organization, and we have already hosted three events as we approach midterms. I am excited to hear what new students anticipate to receive from the group, and I look forward to helping them achieve those goals.
The biggest lesson I learned this year is to say yes to opportunity when it knocks. Getting involved in several activities has been invigorating, and fulfilling. This past year has flown by, so don't wait to get involved or it will be too late!
May you all accomplish more this year than you ever thought possible!
Matthew T. Lewellen
MBA Candidate 2016