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Tufts undergraduates considering careers in finance are now going to benefit from a pilot program that will help them enter the job market well-prepared and confident.

The Tufts Finance Initiative (TFI) was announced on September 22 at the Wall Street Crash Course, an event run by the Tufts Financial Network, in collaboration with University Advancement and Career Services.

TFN Leadership

The idea for the Tufts Finance Initiative came through alumni leader Bruce Grossman, A85, A16P, when he expressed an interest in giving students the preparation he would have appreciated as an undergraduate. Even with a degree in economics, he found it difficult to break into the financial world, and only with persistence did he finally land a job in investment banking.

Now the founder and CEO of Dillon Hill Capital, Grossman made a leadership gift toward the program’s $1.8 million goal.

“This program exists because of Bruce,” says Jeff Winey, G90, director of Principal and Leadership Gifts. “We have a lot of alumni who have been successful on Wall Street, but Bruce felt very strongly that Tufts could do more to help young graduates get started. Alumni recognize the value of a liberal arts education, but they also want our students to have a bit more exposure to the real world – a course or a workshop – to help them be successful.”

Additional alumni who are active in the Tufts Financial Network have provided significant support to fund the initiative, and so far, the University has raised $1.1 million toward its $1.8 million goal.

“We’re making headway,” says Jeff. “If it’s going to be successful, it has to have alumni involvement.”

What is TFI?

The Tufts Finance Initiative is a five-year pilot program that will be housed in the Department of Economics in the School of Arts and Sciences. The University’s goal is to integrate components from the initiative into the curriculum in phases. When it is fully up and running, it will support:

  • positions for two new Professors of the Practice, with the first expected to be hired this spring;
  • workshops, trips to financial institutions, guest speakers, and additional finance courses;
  • summer internships and programs or activities related to internships;
  • a new position in the Office of Career Services dedicated to supporting students and alumni pursing finance careers and/or MBA programs.

James Glaser, dean of Academic Affairs for Arts and Sciences, says TFI will make a big difference for the growing numbers of students interested in careers in this industry.

“We recognize that students first come to Tufts for a quality liberal arts education, but these curricular changes will also allow them to develop more of the skills required in that field.”

Student Reactions

Emily Sillari, A13, president of the Tufts Financial Group, a student-run organization whose activities include managing an investment portfolio, was thrilled to hear the good news.

“It’s so exciting,” says Emily. “It’s going to be a key to helping Tufts students break into finance. It will definitely make us more marketable.”

Emily is particularly looking forward to meeting the first of two Professors of Practice who will develop a finance curriculum. The Professors of Practice are drawn from industry and bring a “real world” perspective to the classroom.

Emily has had to become finance-savvy on her own, and so job interview questions like: “What is the Sharpe Ratio?” won’t throw her off. Still, there is no substitute for having access to finance professionals “we can reach out to on a regular basis for guidance. That’s going to be great.”

TFN helps student navigate the Wall Street Crash Course

Brigette Bryant, senior director of Development for Arts and Sciences, dubbed this year’s event “the best ever.”
This year’s Wall Street Crash Course welcomed a record-breaking 200 students and more than 30 alumni volunteers who traveled to Medford to share their expertise on topics such as “Wall Street Basics,” interviewing and networking skills, and career options in real estate.

“We have students who are curious, interested, and committed,” she says. “They were all there at 7:45 AM sharp, dressed in their business attire and ready to learn. . . When I think of the impact this program has on our students, it’s amazing.”

Alumni involvement included a session that provided a crystal clear overview of the “Capital Markets Lifecycle,” which was moderated by Jeff Moslow, A86, A16P.

As part of the presentation, Moslow perfected a flow chart highlighting the story of Edgecast Networks, a private tech company founded by Alex Kazarani, A95, and Philip Goldsmith, A95, to illustrate the lifecycle of the capital markets. On hand to lend first-person narratives were Thomas Pappas, A83, an angel investor; and John Ball, A86, a venture capitalist whose company Steamboat Ventures is an investor in the tech company. Other participating alumni included Justin Nelson, A98, a banker with J.P. Morgan Chase.

“It was an excellent session,” says Brigette. “They did it so well that the students could see all the various jobs open to them along the lifecycle, and see what might be of interest to them.”