Pierce, a senior finance major at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, manufactured a bit of “luck” recently when – on his own initiative – he submitted an op-ed piece to The Wall Street Journal. No one was more surprised than he was when an editor said the paper wanted to publish it.
“I emailed the WSJ opinion submission site and used a ‘trick’ by also sending it to one of the opinion editors,” Pierce said. “I was initially rejected from the opinion submission email, but two days later the editor contacted me with their edit, we discussed a few more changes, and they published it two days later.
“No one suggested I try, and I only told one friend that I was even submitting it because it was such a long shot.”
Pierce’s piece, “To My Fellow Job-Hunting College Seniors,” (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303730804579435040049720068?mg=id-wsj) was published in the printed newspaper and online March 17. It was peppered with advice from someone who had conducted his own successful job hunt. He is going to work after graduation as an investment-banking analyst with Stephens Inc. in Little Rock.
“With some of my free time this semester, I have reached out to bright students in the Walton Finance Club. I met with them and taught them what I wish people had taught me as an underclassman,” Pierce said. “After meeting with a few students, I realized I was out of breath after two hours from trying to say everything. So I decided to write all my thoughts down which ended up being the rough draft of the article.”
What are some of the things that Pierce wanted to impart to fellow college seniors? Here are a few quotes from the Journal article with his advice.
- “Never wear a black suit to an interview.”
- “LinkedIn. Get one.”
- “Make your Twitter and Instagram private. Oh, and delete your Myspace if it still exists.”
- “Set up your voice mail like someone who has a real job or deserves one.”
- “Once you accept a job offer, don’t talk about your salary – you’ll either sound like you’re bragging or you’ll discover you should have held out for more.”
- “If you’ve accepted an offer, do everything in your power to help classmates find a job.”
Another piece of advice that Pierce has for job-hunting students is to not wait for opportunity to find you.
“I see many students looking for one big opportunity to fall into their lap or to meet that one super important networking contact,” he said. “But from my experience, it is the student who takes advantage of the opportunities that are so small that they’re nearly invisible who creates more opportunities and momentum. Those are the ones who get a chance at the big opportunities.
“That being said, I’ve tried to capitalize on any opportunities that come my way of which the Walton College provides a lot. You just have to get up and be ambitious and go out there and find them.”
Pierce has done just that since coming to Walton after attending community college. He is vice president of the Finance Club at Walton. The club has quadrupled its membership this year and has brought in the chief financial officers of Walmart and Tyson Foods Inc. to talk with students. He made the university’s chancellors list in fall 2013 and received several scholarships, including the and the Oaklawn Foundation Scholarship.
Pierce said he intentionally stayed away from online comments about his Journal article. “I just let my friends read them and pass along anything important or noteworthy,” he said.
“It is an opinion piece, so people have other opinions, but it was in the top five ‘most popular’ on the WSJ website for most of the day, and I have found it very well received,” he said. He has been asked about appearing on business-related TV shows, but none have fit into his school schedule.
Pierce, who grew up in Hot Springs and graduated from Lake Hamilton High, is focused on finishing up his senior year and beginning his new job.
“Honestly, my career goals at this point are to get to my job, keep my head down and work,” he said. “Beyond that, I couldn’t say anything more than the vague and cliché answers.
“I’m going to create and take advantage of as many opportunities as I can and see where they lead me. I have ideas, but my goal is to be the best analyst I can be so that’s what I have been trying to prepare for.”
One way he has been preparing is with an internship with Greenwood Gearhart Inc., a Fayetteville fee-only investment advisory firm. “My principals, Dr. Mary Ann Greenwood and Brock Gearhart, as well as my colleagues at Greenwood Gearhart Inc., have all taken on mentorship roles in their own right and guided me through college and my job search,” Pierce said.
Although it was his first attempt at publication, submitting to The Wall Street Journal wasn’t a shot in the dark. Pierce looked at it as a matter of supply and demand. A lot of students craved advice, and Pierce didn’t see a lot of outlets offering applicable, unique advice on the topic. So he picked the Journal for its wide audience and business readership.
“I’ve written a few formal letters during my job search and a tribute to a friend who passed away, but never anything for publication before,” he said. “My high school teacher sent me an email and said he gave me an A-plus, so it might be time for me to retire while I’m ahead!”