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Investment Banking Veteran Offers Career Advice to College’s Students

Posted: November 14, 2018

Thomas Aquinas College’s new vice president for finance, Dennis McCarthy, met with members of the student business club on Sunday to offer advice on career discernment, graduate school, and the post-graduation job search.

“Why does a guy who spends 40 years in investment banking change to become a CFO of a college?” asked Mr. McCarthy, who has previously held executive positions at such firms as EF Hutton, Drexel Burnham Lambert, and Boustead Securities. “The answer is because this is not your typical college. … Think of the things you have done in the classroom, the things that you may take for granted. Your experience is so different from so many of the other students who are out there. You read tough material. You come to class prepared. You express yourself. You agree, you disagree — that experience is so valuable. That’s the real experience for work.”

Over the course of a one-hour presentation in St. Cecilia Hall’s Dillon Seminar Room, Mr. McCarthy covered how students can determine their strengths and skills, demonstrate them to potential employers, and make the most of them in the marketplace. He also answered questions on topics ranging from graduate school, to internships, to corporate jargon.

Technical skills related to a particular profession, he said, are less important — they can be learned on the job — than the analytical and communication skills that the College’s students learn through its classical curriculum and classroom discussions. “The skills that are useful for work are being able to understand complex material, communicate it in an efficient fashion, and be ready to discuss it,” said Mr. McCarthy. “You do that Freshman Year, when you stand up and demonstrate a prop. Do you know how far ahead that puts you in front of other applicants?”

The key to finding a good job, he continued, is advertising and demonstrating those skills to future employers. To that end, Mr. McCarthy proposed numerous resources of which students can avail themselves, including the College’s Career Service Office and networking via the alumni website. He also offered to give students personalized career advice, résumé-crafting suggestions, and help with creating a LinkedIn video should they request it.

“I feel very passionate about this issue,” said Mr. McCarthy, whose daughter Kim graduated in 2011 and is married to a fellow alumnus, Paul Lazenby (’10), director of the College’s Annual Fund. “I have known the school for a number of years now, and I have been constantly amazed and impressed with the students whom I have met.”

Dennis McCarthy at Career Panel -- November 2018

Dennis McCarthy

“Thomas Aquinas College is a small college, but its reputation has spread far and wide. Because it lives off the masterpieces of thought and literature emanating from the Christian tradition of the Western world, it provides a first-rate education for a select body of talented undergraduates.”

– Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J (†)