A Career Exploration Day at Vanguard

Information Technology (IT) Explore Day

I was privileged to be able to observe Vanguard’s IT Explore Day held recently in their Malvern, PA offices. I learned a great deal about how a company known for financial services makes a concerted effort to recruit a diverse talent pool of information technology and security risk analysis professionals. I’d like to share a few of the most notable moments of the day! If you are a computer science student and would be interested in attending this event next year, contact Katie Peck, University & Recruiting Partnerships Lead at Kathryn_peck@vanguard.com.

Kicking off the event: feeling welcome

The day began with just over 60 students checking in with Vanguard’s university relations team, who welcomed them with some terrific Vanguard swag. The keynote address by John McGrory, Head of International and Corporate Systems, gave an overview of the company’s global reach while also incorporating down-to-earth career advice. “Don’t put pressure on yourself to figure it all out,” McGrory said. “Focus on jobs and opportunities that challenge you and give you a chance to grow.”

A group activity which involved solving several challenging puzzles had the students out of their seats, scribbling furiously. The solutions required logic, teamwork, and creative problem-solving skills, and upon completion the students unlocked the miniature treasure chests containing their reward, candy that was shared among all the victorious team members.

Welcome IT EXPLORErs!

Welcome IT EXPLORErs!

Small group networking: making connections

During lunch, several Vanguard crew members joined the students at each table. As the students peppered them with questions, they shared insight into the culture of the organization, the benefits of working for a large, complex institution, and the challenges they have overcome through developing their career path at Vanguard.

May Arinze, an IT Project Manager with the company, talked about the Technology Leadership Program that some new hires at Vanguard participate in. She appreciated the mentoring opportunities that she was afforded through the program and commented on the willingness of senior crew members to help early career professionals.

L-R: John McGrory giving keynote, May Arinze sharing advice, Katie Peck talking with student.

L-R: John McGrory giving keynote, May Arinze sharing advice, Katie Peck talking with student.

Opportunities for career development

Marjorie Bartell, a software developer with Vanguard, talked about the internal and external training opportunities available. “If you want to develop a skill, there are lots of training opportunities at Vanguard,” she shared. Marjorie participates in several voluntary groups for employees including a Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success, the college recruiting team, and even a band!

Srinath Chigullapalli, a Vanguard systems manager, remarked that because Vanguard has so many opportunities for growth, crew members can “focus on deepening their technical expertise or develop leadership skills by managing people and projects.” He shared that the culture of Vanguard emphasizes teamwork, and remarked that twice he has gone skydiving with crew members!

L-R: Student attendees, panel of recently hired team members, and cybersecurity presentation

L-R: Student attendees, panel of recently hired team members, and cybersecurity presentation

Career growth areas for the future

Vanguard staff gave short presentations on cyber security, vividly describing their work as “a battle between security professionals and the bad guys, where both are constantly getting smarter.” Diane Tracy, Karl Stephan, and Anthony Maslowski talked students through the complex process that Vanguard uses to thwart potential cyber-attacks and hacking attempts.

Lauren Sproles, University Relations & Partnerships Lead at Vanguard, was pleased with the turnout. She felt that this particular group of students was incredibly engaged and asked terrific questions. She talked about the extensive network of university career services professionals she works with to identify students who would benefit from exposure to Vanguard’s IT Explore program.

Linda Titanich and I had an animated discussion about women in tech. She’s part of a group of women and men called Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success, and talked about a women in technology hackathon Vanguard co-sponsored with another organization called SisterHacks. She remarked that with so many women in tech at Vanguard, it doesn’t feel like a struggle the way it might at other firms because there is such a supportive community.

L-R: Virtual reality goggles demo, solving a challenge, and an engaging group activity

L-R: Virtual reality goggles demo, solving a challenge, and an engaging group activity

What did the students think?

The students I spoke with really appreciated the information that was shared by Vanguard staff. Keirsten King, a rising sophomore at New Jersey Institute of Technology, said the presentations and activities helped clarify for what she would look for in a company’s culture. She liked the many ways Vanguard encourages crew members to learn and grow. Shakeel Alibhai is a student at Temple, and he said he was most interested by the discussions of collaborative programming done at Vanguard, as most of his courses so far are primarily graded on individual work.

The event was a fantastic experience that gave young professionals the opportunity to learn about career options at Vanguard in a supportive, inclusive environment. I hope more companies consider welcoming early career professionals for industry-focused exploration days! Sincere thanks to Katie Peck and everyone who obliged me with photos and impressions for this post. I learned a great deal myself.