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What I look for in Allegiancy job prospects

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What I look for in Allegiancy job prospects

By: Chris Sadler, President, Allegiancy

September 03, 2015

I don’t really care what college students major in. I have other measures I value more than a specific course of study.

I recently attended with two of our young company analysts a career fair at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, Va., and left there encouraged by the quality of this next generation of prospective workers.

At the Hampden-Sydney College Career Fair, the young men I met showed themselves to be engaged, eager and ready to take on the world. They were thinking about their futures and they all asked good questions.

To me, the nature of the questions from prospects for jobs are a critical component of the hiring process.

I took the opportunity in speaking to the students at our Allegiancy table to deliver a message I feel strongly about: I don’t put a lot of stock in what they majored in. I care more about their desire, their ability to think and their ability to communicate.

I can teach them the business side of a profession, which in our case is commercial real estate asset management. A business degree or a real estate degree may give a student some of the verbiage or lingo that they need to know. But that’s really all it’s going to give them.

At Allegiancy, we see ourselves as initiating radical change in the business of asset management. As a result, we have our own culture, values, business practices, skills and analysis that can be learned only through working in our company. We think outside the box and value innovation, things you cannot learn in school.

That’s why I’m a fan of a liberal arts education. A generalist education that includes an emphasis on communication, writing, rhetoric and public speaking, as well as critical thinking, is going to serve you much better in the workplace as opposed to a specific set of skills.

After all, how many of us are doing the same thing at work we did 10 years ago? Advances in technology and innovations in everything from data analysis to raising capital have revolutionized business and we think we are at the forefront of this economic revolution. A lot of us say something similar, which is along the lines of, “I never would have suspected this is what I’d be doing today.”

Or how many of us switch careers? Often, a specific skill set we might have learned in college we won’t use in a career switch.

I like what a young man told me once in an interview. He was a philosophy major and I asked him how he thought his degree would help him in working with us. He answered that his education in philosophy had taught him to search for the root of an idea or argument and then to rebuild it from there.

I thought it was outstanding insight and an enlightened way to describe the value of a philosophy education. I have to admit, while many in the business world would view a philosophy degree as a negative — What’s that good for in business after all? — the young man had taken a contrarian approach and effectively conveyed the advantages of it. My sense was he has a mind and thought process that’s a harbinger of success.

Ultimately, I had the opportunity to talk to students about the things I’m looking for in people we bring on at Allegiancy. I want to see desire, that element that causes a person who wants something to go get it. And I want initiative, that ability to take charge and take a project to the next step even in the face of difficulty.

I definitely saw some of those qualities on my visit to Hampden-Sydney.

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