Monday, July 29, 2013

The Life of a Young Professional

Balancing classes, a part-time job, an internship, homework and social activities can be tough. So when the topic of finding a mentor comes up, many collegiates shrug off the idea because there just aren't enough hours in the day.  While having a mentor won't make-or-break your chance at career success, having a good mentor can be extremely helpful when you're looking for career advice, job opportunities or even just a role model who's already succeeded at something you'd like to do. 

I met my mentor my freshman year of college. Not only was he a person I could go to for help, advice and guidance, he became a great friend and significantly helped (and is still helping) me through the post graduate transition into the “real world.” Learning from his experiences, even if they were different from my own, has proven invaluable as I settle in to my new life as a young professional.

My interview features my mentor and friend Kevin Fallon. He graduated from Fordham University in 2011 and currently works for KPMG. I conducted my interview with Kevin in hopes to shed some light on what life is like for young professionals, and the changes (the good, the bad and the ugly) that one may go through after graduation.

Q. Tell me about your current position (what you're doing, what your day to day is like, what excites you about your job).
A. In my current position as a Transactions and Restructuring associate at KPMG advisory I help my clients evaluate the financial risks and opportunities of company's they are considering acquiring. My daily responsibilities include analyzing financial data, maintaining our requests for information for our clients and summarizing our findings into PowerPoint presentation reports. In my job I get to learn a great deal about a company in a very short period of time. Understanding the unique challenges companies face in different industries is an exciting and constantly changing challenge.  

Q. How did you get to where you are today?
A. KPMG is a signature Partner of Fordham Career Services. I was fortunate enough to interview with them on campus. I started as an intern my sophomore year of college, I began interning at KPMG within their audit department. Toward the end of my internship I expressed interest in KPMG's mergers and acquisitions business. After networking within the company and interviewing internally I was given the opportunity to start my career in the transactions and restructuring division. 

Q. What advice do you have for a post-grad going through the job search?
A. I would encourage post-grads to push forward and not get frustrated. Also try to use the search as an opportunity to continue learning. Each position you apply to is an opportunity to learn about a company or profession. Take each of those opportunities and you will continue to build a valuable knowledge base which you can use going forward. Finally get creative!!! Everyone knows the basic job search tactics but the person who gets creative and goes above and beyond is the person who will get the job. 

Q. Would you say this was a dream job for you?
A. One day I would really like to own my own business and this has always been a dream of mine.  I believe my current job will give me the skills I need to get to that point in the future so from  that perspective it is a dream job. (Or at least a building-to-a-dream job.)

Q. What has been the toughest part of your post-grad life thus far?
A. Balancing the demands of work against my personal life and being with my girlfriend is the most difficult part of post-grad life. While a career is important, at the end of the day it is your family and friends who make you happy and it is important to never forget that.

Q. What obligations does your employer expect of you outside of the work week? Are there organizations you are expected to join? Are there social commitments? How has your job affected your lifestyle?
A. At times my group can require a decent amount of weekend and late-night work. The work week takes on a slightly different definition in this line of work. In addition to the demands of work there are also social demands including client networking, business travel and internal networking. While these events can be fun, in time the fun turns into a burden, which is one of the reasons it is difficult if not impossible to remain in the field long term. 

Q. What advice do you have for others who may want a career like yours?
A. My advice is a little less specific to my career focus, but more to my path; always be open minded, but be focused on what you want. This sounds conflicting, but being open minded allows you to see more things as potential opportunities. By focusing on what you want to accomplish, you can filter these opportunities and chase the ones you feel will get you closer to your goal.

Goals will always change and evolve, but always keep focused on what you want to achieve. A great way to find these opportunities is by getting out and talking to people. Take every chance you can to learn as much as you can about someone else. You can never accomplish anything all alone.

Q. What do you think has been your greatest professional accomplishment so far?
A. During a slow patch at work I wrote a proposal for a new internal protocol and platform which affects how we send work requests to our overnight/offshore India team.  The proposal was taken up by our management and is currently planned for FY14 development. This project was a rewarding accomplishment for me because it solved a problem we faced on a regular basis and earned recognition across the organization. 

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time, outside of work?
A. I love to go on adventures and try new things with my girlfriend and friends. I also love finding and searching for old collectibles.

Q. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
A. I see myself focusing more in my personal life and less on my professional development. I also expect to be wrapping up any corporate career and beginning to look for opportunities to start a small business and work for myself.

I hope this post provided a bit of insight into the life of a young professional. Having a mentor will help you learn what to expect during this time, and help ease the new and challenging process!

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