Moderated by Edith L. Bartley, (JD, vice president of government affairs, Thurgood Marshall College Fund) the panel was comprised of Johnny Ducking, Ph.D., assistant professor at North Carolina A&T State University; Julian Johnson, executive vice president, SEO, Sponsors for Educational Opportunities; Sabrina Lamb, founding CEO of WorldofMoney.org; and John S. Wilson Jr., Ph.D., president of Morehouse College.
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The panel was asked, ‘What do historically black colleges need to do to create and sustain meaningful collaboration with Wall Street?’
Lamb responded by telling the story of a young man who was mentored by a high-level corporate executive he did not personally know—because he’d written him a letter that included the question, ‘How can I help you meet your needs?’ He didn’t ask the executive to help him, Lamb stressed, and related how the young man’s bold, service-focused request resulted in the enviable mentorship.
Johnson emphasized the need to pursue internships or other practical work experience. “Corporations are now hiring first-year analysts from their interns. They’re doing the 10-week interview,” he said, stressing consistent excellence and fluency in Excel and Power Point. “When you get a 98% grade in college, that’s great,” Johnson said. “But in the workplace, you can’t hand in a spreadsheet that’s 2% incorrect. You won’t get a second chance to get it right.”
He advised arriving before your boss and leaving afterward, doing exceptional work consistently—“Shock people with how good you are,” he said. He also advised paying attention to detail and doing more than what’s expected of you.
Wilson spoke of how Morehouse is transitioning to requiring coding of all majors and acknowledged how essential computer science is to all business knowledge, and also of how Silicon Valley is drawing away students’ interest that they previously had in the financial sector.
Ducking urged students to embrace math, and by extension, to push back against their assumptions or the hang-ups of others. “Math isn’t hard. If someone told you it is, don’t believe them.” He basically seemed to advise embracing the unknown and the seemingly complex.
Lamb stressed the need to have your own personal financial house in order. “If you’ve got bad credit,” she warned, “you will not get hired on Wall Street.” She also urged students to think beyond our borders and to go global. Although EQ (emotional intelligence, or soft skills) wasn’t discussed, certainly the discipline of personal financial management suggests a maturity and self-control that’s needed in the workplace.
For more about the 19th annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit, go to www.RainbowPushWallStreetProject.org, and follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WSPES2016.