After the Bubble bursts

Robert Braun

I traded. I traded Viking Hour at the VR for appointments with busy professionals at night. I traded ’80s night on Wednesdays for calling clients and prospects. I traded staying up until 2 a.m. for a bedtime right after the 10 o’clock news. I traded LU Baseball sweatpants for pleated slacks.Two years ago, I headed back to Minneapolis for Christmas knowing full well I would be working for Waddell & Reed as a financial adviser beginning the next fall.

I had an internship where they offered me a job before I went back for my senior year. Even though I had a job, there was still much apprehension and anxiety about heading into the working world. Especially for me, I took a job without a salary; I get paid only in commissions.

I was asked to write about what I am doing now, how Lawrence prepared me, what it taught me for my job, and what I’ve done to stay in touch with classmates and faculty. So, here goes:

I am a financial adviser. I help people implement strategies so they can meet their financial goals. For instance, many of my middle-aged clients want to know if they will be able to retire with their current investment strategy. Many of my young clients want to save for their child’s education along with retirement planning.

Lawrence really set me up with the skills in order to be successful. From day one, I asked myself, “What can I do to set myself apart?” I noted right away was that I am the ‘computer expert’ at my office, not because I know a lot about computers, but because I am the youngest one in the office.

Well, I took my role as an ‘expert’ and ran with it. Waddell & Reed is constantly coming out with new computer programs to make the adviser’s job easier. Well-seasoned advisers have to either learn the new system or find someone (like myself) to help them conduct their business. I get to make some money and the other adviser doesn’t have to learn a new method of business.

It is difficult to name exact pieces of knowledge Lawrence gave me that I can say directly contribute to my daily activities. I can, however, say a liberal education left me with a well-rounded base in order to adapt to many different situations.

For instance, my job requires marketing, developing and maintaining relationships, strong financial knowledge, and sales. Graduating with an economics degree from Lawrence challenged me in every one of these areas.

Not only was studying in a small classroom setting beneficial, where participation, intelligence, and compelling arguments were required, but also creating the same setting with an intelligent undergraduate population outside the classroom.

Perhaps the most important aspect of my Lawrence education is the relationships I developed — not only in Appleton, but also here in the Twin Cities. I have made many good friends through our local alumni chapter, something I hope everyone seeks out when the relocate outside the “Lawrence Bubble.” Every time we get together, we know our conversations can be intellectually stimulating, recreating the environment we grew so accustomed to at Lawrence.

I still like to have fun and go out. I still get the opportunity to be around athletics, albeit in a different form. Lawrence’s emphasis on community involvement compelled me to give back even after graduation. I’m a volunteer baseball coach at a local high school.

I guess I all my trades I made aren’t too bad. Especially since I traded being poor for making money.