Vir Das, 2018 Commencement speaker and 2002 Knox graduate, has a new Netflix special out today called "Losing...
Office of Communications
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
Major in Economics and Minor in Business & Management
How did you hear about the opportunity at BlackRock?
I did not know what BlackRock was until I basically interviewed with them. I went to a job fair called the Boston Career Forum two years ago, and BlackRock happened to ask me to have interviews with them. I was fortunate enough to land an internship there, and even more fortunately, I received a full-time offer after the internship.
What resources were most helpful to you in securing this opportunity?
I would say the proximity with professors helped me the most. I sought help from my accounting professor, Jeff Gomer [Visiting Lecturer in Business and Management], in understanding the huge scale of business that BlackRock conducts. I also did an independent study with John Haslem [Director for the Center for Teaching and Learning]. Our study topic was on fixed-income investment. The learning environment with John was amazing and engaging, as he made me explain all the materials to him in person to cement my knowledge. It was great knowing that I could reach out to any professor for help.
That said, my other biggest resource of learning was actually my roommate. In these amazing four years of experience, I learned most from different groups of people, ranging from friends, athletes [Kosuke was on the baseball team], and professors.
What is one thing you learned at Knox, in or out of the classroom, that has helped you succeed in your new job?
I personally found [Assistant Professor and Chair of Economics] Jonathan Powers' economics class to be really helpful. One thing my firm really emphasizes is to be a student of the market every day. Every day before going into the office, I need to be aware of current market trends and what is coming up on that day. Professor Powers' senior seminar was profoundly consistent with what BlackRock is asking of all the new grad analysts.
Also, I find the principles and cultures of BlackRock to be extremely similar to Knox's. The firm is open to different ideas, and it believes that innovative ideas come from various majors. They don't just hire finance majors. In fact, more than half of the people who were hired come from a non-finance background. I believe in the power of diversity, which is something that I still cherish from my experience at Knox and Gentlemen of Quality. You learn the most from the people that are unlike you, and I think this firm exemplifies that notion.
What advice would you give to potential, incoming, or current Knox students who are looking to find success in business and management?
The biggest advice I can give is to be open to everything. You may not like finance right now. But how much do you actually know about it? For instance, BlackRock is known for being the biggest investment firm. This does not mean tech people cannot work here. In fact, a lot of people do have to code here at BlackRock. A lot of our executive members are not even finance majors, yet they are in positions to manage this giant firm. My point is that you don't know what role you will play unless you experience it. Financial firms do not mean finance majors. Tech does not mean coding. Your major is just a foundation, after all. In the business world, I think it is okay to be a yes-person. Accept all the challenges and then decide later whether you like it or not. "Don't judge a book by its cover." I can assure you that many firms today have positions available for any major. Don't close your mind only because your major is different than you think it should be.