During “Souper Wednesday,” NIU alumni who specialize in commercial banking gave advice to honors students on how to prepare for the real world.
“When you’re in the real world, you’re competing against us,” said Arthur Pesavento, a business development officer for HSBC Bank USA in Chicago.
The bankers, who each have 20 years of commercial lending experience, told the students that to prepare for interviews and jobs, they should be socially savvy and stay abreast of current events.
“My suggestion is be personable, get in front of people and be comfortable doing face-to-face conversations,” said Allan De Guzman, who is a senior vice president for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Chicago.
When dealing with clients, he added, “we try to gain their trust and loyalty to earn their business. And that goes for all your professions.”
Job experience or volunteer work shows initiative and assertiveness and tells an employer that you’re hirable, said De Guzman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from NIU and a master’s degree in business administration from DePaul University.
The commercial bankers lend money to private and publicly owned businesses with annual revenues of $20 million to $1 billion. They work with a broad spectrum of businesses, such as the manufacturing, distribution, retail and service industries.
“One of the things that I enjoy about my job is being able to see all these different businesses that are a true fabric of our economy,” De Guzman said.
The banking industry is an interesting field because clients are so different, said Pesavento, who received a bachelor’s degree in finance from NIU and a master’s degree in business administration from Indiana University.
When one of the students asked for advice about becoming an entrepreneur, Pesavento told him to go for it, but to consider working somewhere while researching and developing a business.
“We need more entrepreneurs to build ideas, build businesses and create jobs,” De Guzman said.
Each Wednesday, students of the University Honors Program gather in the Campus Life Building for the “Souper” event, sponsored by the NIU Alumni Association. While enjoying a free lunch of soup and muffins, they get to listen to alumni who provide career advice and networking opportunities.
The NIU Alumni Association is looking for alumni to share their careers at Souper Wednesday. Please contact Katie Giannattasio at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up as a speaker.