Launching Careers: Alumni Stories

Zeke Pariser

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Name: Zeke Pariser ‘12
Major: Philosophy Minor: English
Current Job Title: Operational Due Diligence Analyst (Finance position)
Employer: Akasia

Tell us a bit about your life and career since graduation. How did you get your first job? How did you navigate to where you are now? Where do you live?
During my senior year at Rutgers, a Teach for America recruiter asked to meet with me to discuss the program. After 30 minutes with him, I was hooked.  I applied and ultimately joined TFA as a 5th grade teacher in Philadelphia. After completing the program, I took a job as a paralegal with a prestigious law firm in NYC, with an eye towards law school. I discovered during my time there that law was not the right fit for me, and decided to shift career paths. I interviewed around and was offered a job where I am now, in an alternative investment consultant firm.

Why did you choose your major and minor?
I took a bunch of survey courses my freshmen year and FELL IN LOVE with philosophy after taking Holly Smith's Intro to Ethics course. Easily, one of the best decisions of my life.

How would you describe your greatest personal or professional accomplishment since graduating from Rutgers?
Successfully landing a job with an established, respected finance firm with ZERO background in finance.

How has your arts and sciences education at Rutgers benefited you? Is there a particular course, professor, or experience that was most meaningful? Please describe.
I would NOT have the job I do today without my liberal arts background. I learned how to analyze, write succinctly and convincingly, and present my thoughts and ideas coherently and confidently from some of the top professors in the world. I loved every single course I took at Rutgers; each one prepared me for the job I have today. Professors Holly Smith, Frankie Egan, Doug Husak, Jeff McMahan, Mark Colby (rest in peace), Peter Klein, Angela Harper, Larry Tempkin, Derek Parfit (rest in peace), Ann Coiro, Tom Fulton, and SO MANY OTHERS!

What advice can you offer to School of Arts and Sciences undergraduates about how to successfully connect their education in arts and sciences to their lives and careers after college?
It is OKAY to be unsure of what you want to do after you graduate! Focus on developing and sharpening analytical, writing, and communication skills while you are in college. Do not underestimate how important these are; they are applicable to just about every profession and job. Irrespective of how great your GPA, resume, or other "on paper" assets are, if you cannot demonstrate these skills to potential employers, you will likely be passed up for someone who does. Nine out of 10 employers would rather hire someone with a 3.0 who presents as an intelligent, quick, well-rounded candidate than the 4.0 who cannot string two sentences together.