Program establishes lasting connections in New York
John Avino ’14 and Kyle Watson ’13 have many things in common: both gained an appreciation for teamwork through participating in St. Olaf athletics programs; both majored in economics; and both, inspired by an interest in the financial world, took advantage of the Piper Center for Vocation and Career’s New York Connections Program.
Now the two have one more thing in common: both have landed positions as full-time internal audit analysts with the multinational investment banking firm Goldman Sachs.
Aiming to provide students with the opportunity to conduct extensive career exploration with alumni, the Connections Program helped set Avino and Watson on a path to their future careers by connecting them with Cuitlahuac Turrent ’97. In his role as deputy audit director at Goldman Sachs, Turrent served as a mentor to both Oles and helped them network.
Interacting with an alumnus who had found success in the Big Apple proved to be an invaluable resource. “Cuitlahuac was extremely receptive when I reached out to him,” says Avino.
Watson had a similar experience. “He gave me advice on how to break into a career of finance, some additional resume tips, and advice on how to prepare for interviews in the field,” he says.
Following his experiences with the Connections Program, the Piper Center contacted Watson to inform him of a job opening in Turrent’s department at Goldman Sachs. The opportunity to apply encouraged Watson to pick up the phone, and after several rounds of interviews he landed the job.
Meanwhile, after spending the summer before his senior year interning at a financial firm in St. Paul through one of St. Olaf’s On-Campus Recruiting Programs, which strive to provide a venue for students to interact with potential employers, Avino contacted Turrent in the hopes of learning more about career opportunities at Goldman Sachs.
Turrent, however, was not the only Ole willing to help Avino: Watson, by now graduated and working at the firm, was able to discuss his experiences and encourage Avino to apply. This December Avino was offered a position.
Looking back, both Watson and Avino can attribute their success to the values fostered by participating in St. Olaf’s athletics programs.
Avino believes his experiences on the St. Olaf varsity hockey team gave him a significant edge as an applicant.
“Goldman’s firm culture is based around teamwork,” he says. “They appreciate college athletes because they know how to work in teams to accomplish goals in a dynamic environment — whether it’s on the field or in a business firm.”
Watson — a pitcher for the baseball team — says his decision to transfer to St. Olaf after his sophomore year certainly paid off and helped him gain the skills necessary to navigating the professional world.
“I ended up making some great connections, continued pursuing my passions of baseball and finance, made some great friends, got my degree, and now the job,” he says.
“I’m fortunate enough to have a job where I get to do exactly what I want to, while increasing my knowledge in a subject I love.”