Young Alumni Share Career Insights

At Roundtable Event, Successful Yeshiva University Graduates Offer Advice to Students and Recent Alumni

On Thursday, March 23, Yeshiva University’s Office of Alumni Affairs and Sy Syms School of Business convened a young alumni roundtable. At the event, five alumni shared their insights about how to find the right path to a successful career with 60 students and members of the YU community.

Laizer Kornwasser ’92SB, adjunct professor at Sy Syms and a board member for Sy Syms, Yeshiva University and the Yeshiva University High Schools, facilitated a discussion between Teresa Bayewitz ’06S, of Mercer; Asaf Fligelman ’06SB, of Millennium Partners LP; Adam Lauer ’07SB, of Credit Suisse; and Darren Wolf ’02SB of Aberdeen Asset Management. The meeting was hosted by Credit Suisse.

From left to right: Asaf Fligelman ’06SB, Darren Wolf ’02SB, Adam Lauer ’07SB, moderator Laizer Kornwasser ’92SB and Teresa Bayewitz ’06S
From left to right: Asaf Fligelman ’06SB, Darren Wolf ’02SB, Adam Lauer ’07SB, moderator Laizer Kornwasser ’92SB and Teresa Bayewitz ’06S

Marcy Syms, founding board member of Sy Syms, opened the meeting with a welcome to the attendees and three key recommendations for success: First, always have business cards in hand, even if the company doesn’t print them. “In a paperless world,” she said, “it shows that you’re prepared.” Second, read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale and All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum, and refer to them often for inspiration and guidance. Third, when building up personal networks, for every no, try to get three yeses and build two solid contacts from that.

Over the course of the evening, Kornwasser laid out five questions for the panelists to consider: How do you know when it’s time for a career move? How can you take your career into your own hands, especially when it comes to annual reviews? What are the best ways to network within a firm? What advice did you get that you found powerful? Do you have any regrets?

For the first question, Wolf responded, “You have to hit the Goldilocks mark, something that’s ‘just right.’ You don’t want to jump around too much because it doesn’t look good on the résumé, but you don’t want to overstay in something where you can’t move forward.”

Michael Strauss, associate dean of the Sy Syms School of Business, with Marcy Syms
Michael Strauss, associate dean of the Sy Syms School of Business, with Marcy Syms

“Taking control of one’s career” became a discussion about the best way to solicit, and to handle, critical performance feedback. All agreed that continual feedback, both formal and informal, worked far better than annual reviews, and Kornwasser added, “Embrace criticism because it makes you stronger.”

For successful networking within a firm, the panelists identified several good rules-of-thumb: get out of your comfort zone; say “yes” often; give more than you take from your contacts. As Lauer pointed out, “Don’t only network when you need something – spend the time getting to know people for the sake of knowing them.”

The powerful advice that the panelists received ran the gamut from the ordinary to the philosophical. Wolf recalled someone telling him that “being on time to a meeting means being there five minutes early – and always bring a pen and paper.” Fligelman said “know what you don’t know, and don’t fake it,” with which Bayewitz agreed, adding that “humility always helps.” Lauer credited “don’t get too comfortable” as an important spur to his own career growth.

Alumni participants Mazal-Tov Amsellem ’16S, Nicole Bock ’16S, and Michael Heino ’13YC
Alumni participants Mazal-Tov Amsellem ’16S, Nicole Bock ’16S, and Michael Heino ’13YC

The panelists agreed that while regrets are inevitable (there will always be a missed chance or a wrong decision), there’s no profit in feeling regretful: “It is too hard to live in the rearview mirror,” said Fligelman. Wolf added that it is crucial “not to lose sight of what is really important in life.”

After a brief Q&A, Suzy Schwartz, assistant vice president for alumni affairs and strategic development, thanked everyone for coming and encouraged people to join ALUMinate, YU’s exclusive undergraduate online alumni networking platform.

For more information about upcoming events and other alumni initiatives, contact alumni@yu.edu.