The insider's guide to the Jerome Fisher Program at the University of Pennsylvania

My Top 5 Lessons: an M&T Alumni Shares Wisdom


Jordan on the day he started his first full-time position post-graduation

One of the many wonderful things about the M&T program is our alumni engagement. Many alums are eager to “come back” and share their experiences and advice with current students.

After attending our recent NY Alumni Networking Event, alum Jordan Parker (M&T ’13) was excited to share his “Top 5 Lessons Learned as an M&T” with our current undergrads. See these lessons – plus a bonus #6 – below.

  1. Get Comfortable with Uncertainty
    A big part of my current role as an investor hinges on understanding and obtaining comfort around uncertainty. But, my education didn’t start on the job. My engineering classes exposed me to robust design principles, which helped mitigate and create structure around the uncontrollable variation inherent in components, systems, and the real world. In an unexpected way, these ideas hold a lot of weight in a business context. The lessons I learned positioned me to grapple with complexities that may surprise traditional “business-only” students.
  1. Explore New Opportunities
    Choosing where to focus my attention was one of the biggest challenges as an M&T. Working to fulfilling the requirements for two premier degrees, it’s easy to think there’s no time for “fun” courses. Taking time to explore a foreign language on a pass/fail basis and sitting in a less technical statistics class (“for managers”) with my friend ended up opening doors I never imagined. These experiences led to me traveling abroad and pursuing a second concentration in statistics, There’s always time to explore a new opportunity!
  1. Ask the Right Questions
    Organizations move in the direction of the questions they ask. Right off the bat in MGMT 100, I learned an important lesson (one that’s stuck with me 7 years later): how we frame the discussion matters. Questions mark the beginning of any conversation, and to get the ball rolling in the right direction, we sometimes need a push.
  1. Build on Foundational Understandings
    A strong foundation in mathematics allowed me to navigate many intro (and even intermediate) level courses from first principles. It’s never too early start focusing on the basics and preparing for the next level, even if you don’t know what that next step will be.
  1. Gain Experience
    There’s no substitute for experience. Despite #4 above, knowing theorems and methods is no substitute for real-life action and involvement.In my second semester Freshman year, I sat in on an introductory management course with several upperclassmen. They drew on their experience as interns at consulting firms, investment banks or large conglomerates to make sense of the various new frameworks presented. I could hardly keep up! I wondered what made these students so confident – how were they able to gain so much from the discussion?Fast forward to my final semester and my absolute favorite course: Corporate Responsibility & Ethics. Now it was my turn to draw on outside experiences, share my thought process and participate in role-playing sessions that echoed real-world situations I had encountered. The difference was night-and-day.
  1. Bonus: Learn from Your Peers!
    In addition to the five themes above, a real advantage of being an M&T is the vibrant, open, entrepreneurial community. Take time to participate in the culture, share with your peers and be sure to listen every now and then – you just might learn something!

Jordan Parker is an investment associate with a special situations fund in New York City. He graduated from M&T in 2013 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a B.S. in Economics, with concentrations in Finance and Statistics (and a math minor on the side). His hobbies include visiting NYC parks, attending friends’ birthday parties and mentoring anyone who asks. He also recently tried his hand at food service by volunteering at a poutine stand.

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