Major Days Go Online, Offering Additional Opportunities

Aruj Bhargava wore a suit and tie to Penn State Behrend’s 2020 Finance Day program, even though he could have easily attended in pajama pants and his bare feet.

Like so many other educational and professional events during the pandemic, the program, which is designed to help students explore career options in finance, went virtual.

The Zoom format didn’t concern Bhargava, a sophomore from El Dorado Hills, California. He knew he’d still have plenty of time to connect with the program’s guest speakers—through his MacBook Pro.“My goal was to have a chance to learn about and explore different opportunities in finance, and to network,” Bhargava said.

The online format opened the mid-October event to c-suite executives and alumni from across the country, said Eric Robbins, assistant teaching professor of finance and associate director of corporate outreach and research in Behrend’s Black School of Business, which coordinates the program. The school also presented an Accounting Day and a Project and Supply Chain Management Day this semester.

“All four people on our alumni panel were from out of town,” Robbins said. “Some of our presenters were in New York City, and others were on the West Coast. They have significant professional roles, and the virtual environment enabled them to join us.”

The Finance Day program featured eight presentations, including talks by John Battilana, a vice president and portfolio strategist at KeyBank, and George Emanuele, a senior director of wealth management at BNY Mellon. Emanuele is a member of the Black School of Business Advisory Board and a former Executive in Residence at the school.

Each talk highlighted different career opportunities, from traditional banking and investment management to alternative investing and corporate finance.

Nearly 100 students participated in the event, which concluded with a virtual career fair, organized with the help of the college’s Academic and Career Planning Center. Recruiters from Vanguard, Federated, First National Bank, Erie Insurance, and Fort Pitt Capital, among other companies, participated.

Bhargava was there for all of it.

“It was a chance to hear from respected professionals in different areas of finance, and to learn what they do on a day-to-day basis, and what they find of value,” he said. “Whether online or in-person, that’s a valuable opportunity.