This year, the Reiman School of Finance has facilitated 37 student-alumni pairings
This is the first in a series of articles commemorating National Mentoring Month. Each Friday in January, the Daniels Newsroom will share the stories of students, faculty and alumni benefitting from mentorship.
“Send me your resume and I’ll send you mine.”
The request caught José Olvera off guard. He could understand Ronald LeClere (MS 2000, MBA 2000) wanting to look over his document. Olvera, after all, was a graduate student at the Daniels College of Business and new to the field of finance.
But LeClere was a CFO at a health technology solutions provider. Did he even need a resume at this point?
“I’ve only been in this space for the last two years,” Olvera said, which is why he was so eager to ask questions. “What has it been like being in the industry for the last 20 or 30 years? And [then I] just compare the two points of view. Comparing what a student resume looks like versus a CFO’s resume is so vastly different.”
LeClere was happy to provide answers and guidance. The two were paired in the Reiman School of Finance’s mentorship program, which matches students with alumni for a highly individualized learning experience. Based on a short survey, finance students gain access to the professional world through regularly occurring check-ins. This year, Reiman has facilitated 37 pairings.
LeClere didn’t have a mentor as he was rising through the ranks in the corporate finance field. But he clearly remembers sitting in Ron Rizzuto’s class during his days at the University of Denver, listening to guest speakers describe their career experiences.
“It left an impression on me,” said LeClere, who was working full time and attending classes at night. “It was something I always wanted to do. I really like helping people. I’ve kind of reached the top of my career. There’s nowhere else to really go, so to speak. I’m 54; I’ll be retiring in the next 3-5 years. If people are willing to put in the effort to learn and to take advantage of my time and what I can offer them, then I’m more than willing to help them with whatever they may need help with.”
It’s LeClere’s third stint in the mentorship program. Each time, he has let students shape the experience. He offers his email and phone number; students can call, text or email him as much or as little as they’d like.
At first, LeClere was hesitant to mentor people outside of his specialty, corporate finance. But over the years, he’s realized that even if he can’t provide industry-specific expertise, he has a lot to offer in the way of professionalism and general career readiness—from interview prep to resume feedback to even wardrobe advice.
“As long as they feel they took something valuable away from the interaction, that’s how I measure success,” said LeClere, who is marking his third year in the program. “I really enjoy helping people get started. If they can get in the door with a resume that I helped them reformat and they end up getting a job out of that based on their own abilities, that’s awesome.”
The Zoom meetings have proved invaluable for Olvera, who says he’s thinking about finance completely differently than he was a few months ago. Conversations with LeClere have challenged him to reconsider things he previously saw as universal truths and fleshed out his view of the industry.
“Seeing you can have a meaningful, long-term career that you won’t get bored of in corporate finance gives me hope, compared to what I had seen in my internship,” he said.
As he prepares to graduate in June, Olvera feels the mentorship program has helped shrink the business world for him.
“Even if you don’t get paired up with someone in the [exact] industry you wanted, the fact that you’re going to be able to make a real connection with someone, I think that’s what makes it worth it,” he said. “The finance industry, just like any other industry in the U.S., is not very big. You have a ton of different industries, a ton of different markets and spaces. Everything is very niche, to a certain extent. If you were to count the number of active DU alums in Denver that work in this field, it’s not many.”
And so, his advice to other Daniels students is to take advantage of any opportunity to talk with a professional in the field in which they aspire to work, whether on their own or through Reiman’s program.
“You have nothing to lose,” he said, “and you have a lot to gain.
Students interested in the mentorship program can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alumni who want to get involved should email email@example.com.