The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Word to the wise

Dallas professionals offer job advice for SMU students

Soon-to-be SMU college graduates have every reason to stay in school as long as possible – and for the first time – it’s not for the party.

Sept. 15, 2008, marked the worst day on Wall Street as the Dow Jones Industrial Average tanked over 500 points. Sept. 22, the dollar reached its biggest single-day drop in four years. Oct. 2, the number of weekly jobless claims soared to seven year high.

As the U.S. economy is on the brink of an economic catastrophe, starting a successful career seems almost unfeasible. However, hope is no longer the latest buzzword, it is a reality made possible by some of Dallas’ top professionals. Their professional advice gives a new meaning to the saying “words of the wise” as they provide the keys to success for the next generation.

In the past, graduation day leaves students with a bittersweet sense of achievement that quickly changes to an overwhelming feeling of abandonment. Once, soaring at the top of the totem pole, students wake up to the reality of life in the real world. For the class of 2009, reality begins in one place: graduate school.

“My first advice for soon-to-be college graduates is to seriously consider attending graduate school,” said Steve Preston, managing director of North American Development Group, a real estate development company in the Southwest, Mexico and Canada.

“It is important to build a foundation for the future, so when the market turns, you are ahead of the person who was just sitting around playing cards.”

As a graduate from University of Florida’s Hough School of Business in 2006, Preston quickly benefited from his graduate school experience at a young age. Now in his 30s, graduate school enabled him to have a successful career without the monotony of sitting in an office or working under layers of people.

On the opposite side of the business spectrum, Peter Brundage, managing director at Goldman-Sachs, used graduate school as a time to discover the precise field in business he wanted to explore.

“It wasn’t until after I received my M.B.A. that I truly understood I wanted a career in investment banking,” Brundage said. “The investment banking industry is going to be competitive; therefore, the better prepared you are, the better you will stack up against everyone else that comes through the door.”

The benefits of additional schooling are endless, but do not always determine the extent of a person’s professional success. For soon-to-be graduates uncertain which professional path to take, entering the job market could be the answer to the lingering question, “what should I do with my life?”

Mike Casey, Chairman of the Board of the Grand Bank of Texas, undoubtedly understands the hardships that exist in a poor economy, yet he envisions the job market as a place of opportunity for graduates.

“When the economy is in a difficult situation, there will be some who will be very successful and take advantage of other people’s problems,” Casey said. “It is important to be exposed to as many different situations, whether it is school or working with others, it will give you a greater understanding of the way everything works together.”

Creativity and flexibility are the keys to successfully maximizing opportunities that arise in any profession. Regardless of the economy, those who strive to think out of the box and desire to grow through learning will immediately impress CEOs in any professional arena.

“There is definitely really neat opportunities to come to younger people who use creativity to their benefit,” Preston said. “You need to hit the pavement, meet people, network, and when the market turns, you will have endless options.”

When students use creativity to their advantage, passion for a particular field will follow. Stan Levenson, Chief Executive Officer of Levenson and Brinker Public Relations, encourages students “to be passionate, have a vision and commit to success.”

However, achieving success is not always possible unless students fully understand the importance of financial management as well as patience in the marketplace. Lawrence Seifert, owner of Mister Glass Company, advises college graduates to “do something you are passionate about, but more importantly, live within your means and stay out of debt.”

With the current economic conditions, debt will serve as graduates’ ultimate downfall. Success is a process that requires focus and patience.

“Younger people need to understand that it is important to be excited, but don’t think everything is going to happen. One in 10 things will happen,” Preston said.

Although mooching off parents for a couple of years may sound most appealing, students need to graduate with an understanding of what they want and why they want it. Whether the answer is attending graduate school or working, it is time to make a decision.

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