Last fall, I attended a networking event hosted by Penn State's Washington Program. At the time, I was participating in an internship with Senator Casey's office in Washington, D.C. During the networking event, I met Lyle Yablonsky, Vice President of the American Division of AXA. Mr. Yablonsky and I discussed his career and position with AXA, as well as my internship at Senator Casey's office. At the conclusion of the event, he gave me his business card and told me to follow up with him. I shot him an email within 24 hours, and he took me to dinner the next week. We talked casually, and I didn't expect much to come from it because of my lack of knowledge of the financial sector. However, we continued to meet throughout the semester, and he eventually told me about a summer internship opportunity with AXA. He told me he could teach me the business side of financial advising, but no one could teach confidence or how to have a strong work ethic.
I accepted the position, and it turned out to be a career-changing and life-changing move. Because of this experience, I'm convinced I need to take some business courses as electives in my final year at Penn State. I'm going to load my schedule and take more courses than I need because there are certain business skills I think everyone should have. I am particularly interested in learning more about interest and credit, as well as the ins and outs of mortgages, loans, and retirement funds.
My experience with AXA is an example of the career possibilities that can manifest through networking. While the common way for people to find a job is through an online application followed by an interview, networking can enhance or replace that process, resulting in a faster way to secure a job. My "application" to AXA was meeting the vice president and telling him about my experiences thus far at Penn State, including what I'm involved in and what I'm passionate about looking into the future. My "interview," though I didn't know it at the time, was going out for a casual one-on-one dinner. Looking back on those dinners, I remember some questions similar to an interview. Attending networking events is an opportunity that not enough students take advantage of, and I'd encourage any student to seek those opportunities in the future.
I will write more about my experiences at AXA, as well as where I feel it could lead me, if anywhere, in the future.