The C. T. Bauer College of Business works to help its students get involved outside of the classroom with experiential learning. Through workshops, organizations, presentation opportunities and more, there are plenty of ways for students to gain real world experience.
Senior Professor of Practice of Personal Financial Planning John C. Lopez focuses on giving students in the Personal Financial Planning Track real-world experience through networking at personal financial planning conferences.
In 2015, Lopez created the CFP track for Bauer College. Students who complete this program are eligible to take the CFP exam as the courses meet the educational requirements. Five years ago, as the program continued to grow, Lopez began offering students the opportunity to attend these personal financial planning conferences.
“Students will go to these conferences and sit through presentations by professionals on various topics that they have already studied and how they apply to the real world,” Lopez said. “Typically speaking, they will have a day of networking and speakers, maybe an evening activity for students followed by another day of breakout sessions, topics and how to make yourself more marketable to the industry.”
Madeline Nichols, a graduating senior in the financial planning track, is one of the students who recently got to attend one of these conferences. She attended the 2023 CFP Board Conference in October.
“We started off early,” Nichols said. “They had keynote speakers which were talking about the psychology of finance which I always find really interesting. Between speakers we would have breaks so we would talk to professionals. They had special sessions for students where it would be like ‘oh you are starting your career, here are some things you can think about so that you can start your career and here are what employers are looking for.’ They also had meetings with some people who would be offering internships and full-time offers.”
Lopez has seen the benefit of this experience with the students inside the classroom.
“They are able to make the connection between the classroom and the real world,” Lopez said. “It also helps them build more confidence because they are now talking to more professionals. They know what they are looking at, they can answer the questions and answer them intelligently. They can talk about themselves and their aspirations.”
Nichols mentioned how this kind of experience is also helping her going forward once she graduates in December. After graduation, Nichols will begin her career in finance at Mosaic Advisors.
“One thing that stood out to me is one of the speakers was talking about being an active listener,” Nichols said. “They would say things like ‘why would a person be telling me this information and how can I use that to better our relationship.’ I definitely think it was a good foundation and that I am going to continue working towards it and build that relationship with our clients so they can trust us.”
The CFP Track is just one of many fields of studies in Bauer that implements experiential learning. Lopez understands that the impact of these kinds of events helps benefit students both during their time at the university and once they have graduated.
“Our students are good representatives of our community, of our college, of our program and of themselves, so it has been very well received by the industry when we send our students to these conferences.”
“It is always fun when there is a little bit of competition,” Nichols said. “I know we at Bauer like to represent our school and everyone takes notice of that, so you really have to show your pride. So, you have to acknowledge like ‘I’m here, I know what I’m doing’ and kind of just take pride in our program and that’s really what made us stand out.”