What Julie Kelly Taught an English Major

The stock market, Economics 101, graphing calculators and Julie Kelly were four things that made a lover of words, books and open discussion nervous on Wednesday night. The Investment Studies Program brought Colgate alumna Julie Kelly (’04) to speak to students about the basic terminology of finance and explain the importance of understanding these terms. She aimed to enlighten students on how to prepare and handle their own finances once they’ve graduated from Colgate, and for some that date is rapidly approaching. Kelly lectured at a slow pace, ensuring that those who had never taken an economics course could understand what a bond was and how to buy, use and redeem it. She also spoke about mutual investments, which are her specialty, and how one person can invest in a portfolio of different companies that share a common theme. Above all, there were two lessons that stuck out from the rest. First, we need to start thinking about retirement. Although a daunting and faraway place, Kelly urged that it is never too early to begin saving. Second, emotion must be absent when investing in the stock market because those companies that appear to do well one day can change the next. Kelly suggested that it’s much safer and smarter to invest in a company with a history of steady growth and productivity in order to gain, not lose.

Along with a handful of other students, I was additionally lucky to attend a welcome dinner before Kelly’s lecture where she spoke informally about her experiences since 2004. Kelly’s biggest weakness is her intensity, she told us, and she cannot relax and sit back easily. It was obvious that Kelly worked for every dollar and promotion she has earned with both ferocious tenacity and a strong background with her liberal arts education.

During this dinner conversation, Kelly mentioned the most important thing we, as current students and future graduates, can do right now is to set up informational interviews. She understands what it feels like be lost and confused when facing the job market. Kelly suggested sending e-mails, making phone calls and mailing notes to employers of potential interest. Whether they can schedule a lunch date or coffee break, it’s useful to ask questions and get a sense of what people actually do from 8am-5pm every day.

I took many new points of information away from Julie Kelly’s lecture this past Wednesday. Nevertheless, Kelly reaffirmed my confidence in a Colgate education and the tireless work ethic that is born and bred on this campus as two things that will take me far in the career I choose.

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