Timing was everything for Austin Fitch. The Kentucky native was all set to enter the workforce after graduating from Wofford College in 2009 when the economy crashed. He had made it through to the final interview stage at Bank of America and Barclays when both companies issued a hiring freeze coupled with layoffs.
“I had been applying to MBA programs as a back-up plan, so I figured this was a better time to go ahead with an MBA idea,” says Fitch, who focused his program search on public universities in the South. “UT turned out to be the best fit because of the obvious investment the university has made into technology. UT built the Haslam Business Building and the Full-Time MBA Program to truly mirror what the business world is like. The Program teaches you the subtle skills of how to use the technology, which is essential.”
Fitch says he was particularly impressed with the Haslam College of Business’s state-of-the-art Masters Investment Learning Center, which is conveniently located in the Haslam Business Building. “Having multiple Bloomberg data terminals [a computer system enabling financial professionals to access the Bloomberg Professional® service] at my fingertips was a huge plus. From what I learned while researching other MBA programs, few schools, even private ones, offer students access to as many terminals.”
Since Fitch had been recruited by some of the world’s top financial services providers as an undergrad, he felt confident he had the skills to succeed in the UT Full-Time MBA Program. Once he started classes, however, Fitch says he realized that he still had plenty to learn.
“The difference between being an undergraduate and a Full-Time MBA student was night and day,” he adds. “There’s a higher level of seriousness and professionalism in the MBA Program that I felt from day one. I could have gone directly from undergrad to work, but earning an MBA at UT definitely made me a stronger candidate and taught me how to network my way into the job I really wanted.”
Fitch credits the UT MBA Career Management staff with helping him hone his networking skills. While Fitch was charged with taking ownership of his job search, the support, guidance, and resources of the Career Management team empowered him to achieve his ultimate goal of working in the investment research field.“They took my passion and laid out a road map for how I could get to where I wanted to be,” he explains. “One of the most valuable things they coached me on was how to talk to a contact with the goal of having him pass you on to the person responsible for hiring in the area you’re interested in, which, in my case, was research. Instead of blindly sending a resume to the head research person and crossing my fingers that he reads my e-mail, they encouraged me to take a few extra steps to get my name and resume where it needed to be. Using that strategy got me the interview and the job offer. I never would have taken that route on my own.”
Austin Fitch on how the UT Full-Time MBA Program helped him LEARN, TRANSFORM, and LEAD:
LEARN: “Time management is essential in my job as a research analyst. As an MBA student, I had five classes going at once and probably four projects due on three different days. That accelerated pace is what it feels like working here every day. The skills and the experience of juggling multiple assignments for a grade prepared me to do that in my career.”
TRANSFORM: “My internship during the Program definitely helped me figure out what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do. The place where I interned was an investment management shop, but they also did client-facing work as well. From that experience, I knew that the research aspect—not working directly with clients—was exactly what I wanted to do. After that, I pinpointed my goals. Instead of simply wanting to work in the investment management field, I was focused on careers in investment research.”
LEAD: “As a UT Full-Time MBA Program graduate, I brought added value to companies that I didn’t have as a college graduate. The experience, the skills, the seriousness, and the exposure to the state-of-the-art investment and communications technologies definitely elevated my opportunities to a different level.”
MBA Program Office~ 504 Haslam Business Building ~ Knoxville, TN ~ 37996 - 4150
Phone: 865-974-5033 ~ Fax: 865-974-3826 ~ Email:MBA@utk.edu
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
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