Victor Mullins, associate dean of the undergraduate program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, recently interviewed Smith Senior Ray Joyce’17 to discuss how he is “embracing his experience” during his Smith journey.
So what does the Smith journey entail? During their freshman year, Smith students begin to build their personal brand through the SmithStart program. Sophomores dedicate their second year to pioneering their path to success by focusing on an overall academic and career strategy. Junior year focuses on students taking command of their careers during to ensure that they are well positioned for their professional journey. Finally, as a senior with an arsenal of tools, knowledge and networks, Smith students are able to embrace their experience and celebrate their success
Dean Mullins: Reflect on how you “built your brand” during your freshmen year.
Ray: As a freshman with no idea what I wanted to do with my career, “building my brand” was tough. I began college being enrolled in the government and politics program with my sights set on attending law school. Partway through the year, I realized this wasn’t the path for me. To me, part of the way I “built my brand” was deciding to apply to the Smith School and drastically pivot my career path.
Dean Mullins: How about your sophomore year? How did you “pioneer your path?”
Ray: Spring of my sophomore year was my first semester as a Smith student. It was time to get serious about my future and lay the groundwork for a successful junior and senior year. I declared a double major -- finance and economics. I began considering potential career paths, and reached out to Smith alumni within these different verticals. As an internal transfer to the Smith School, I was already far behind my peers in terms of developing my network and finding internships, so I had a lot of work ahead of me.
Dean Mullins: And how did you “command your career” during your junior year?
Ray: For me, junior year was the most pivotal year of my undergraduate career. Going into the year, I didn’t possess any relevant internship experience nor did I have interviews lined up for prestigious investment banking internships. My resume was almost blank, literally and figuratively. However, at the beginning of my junior year I began to see the fruits of my labor. Through my networking efforts the previous summer and a successful round of interviews, I obtained a fall internship with Camden Partners, a Baltimore, Md.-based private equity firm. I then used this internship experience to transition into a spring internship with Patriot Capital, and eventually secure my internship for that upcoming summer with Greenspring Associates. Along with this, I rushed Phi Chi Theta, a business fraternity, to further develop my professionalism and personal network. Having secured three internships and identified my career path, I joined 301 Ventures in the winter of my junior year. 301 Ventures is a student-ran venture capital fund, investing out of UMD. Through this fund, my team and I gain hands-on venture capital experience while bolstering the UMD ecosystem and helping founders achieve their dreams.
Dean Mullins: As you approach graduation from the Robert H. School of Business, how are you “embracing your experience?”
Ray: It’s such a strange feeling being a senior. On one hand, I’m ecstatic to go out into the world and begin my career. On the other hand, I feel like my freshman year was just yesterday. Entering this year having accepted a full-time offer over the summer, has left me with more time on my hands than before. This semester, I became a mentor within my fraternity and for my peers in the Smith School. I can typically be found assisting my peers with their finance courses, reviewing resumes, preparing students for interviews, and offering career advice based on my unique journey. At this stage, I am able to give back to the Smith community and share my knowledge and pathway in the hopes that others may follow and experience similar success.
Dean Mullins: What advice would you give to your fellow Smith peers and community?
Ray: Network, network, network! I never truly believed in the importance of your personal network until I saw the benefits myself. Without my network, who knows where I would be today in my professional development. Excelling academically and doing well in your classes is extremely important, but please don’t underestimate the importance of a robust network. Even today, I still benefit from having a well-developed network. Especially within the finance field, your success is largely affected by who you know because at the end of the day you’re competing against thousands of similar candidates for jobs and internships.
Dean Mullins: How have you/are you making your mark on campus?
Ray: I, along with a few other students, comprise the student team of 301 Ventures, a UMD-based student-run venture fund. We are merging the intersection of fearless ideas and impactful resources to help student-entrepreneurs grow and create long-lasting businesses. These businesses and entrepreneurs will be the faces of UMD soon and I look to play an integral role in their development.
Dean Mullins: What is your dream?
Ray: Professionally, my dream is to continue my career within the private equity/venture capital arena. I believe I have truly found my niche and an industry that interests and excites me every single day. With my internship experiences and my experience running a small venture fund, I know exactly what I’m getting into and I’m embracing the challenges and opportunities with open arms. Personally, I dream of inspiring and helping others the way I was inspired and guided throughout my life. My father has always stressed the importance of helping others whenever possible, and this is something I take to heart. Without people taking time to help me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So, I dream of having this same impact as I progress throughout life. Along with this, I want others to find inspiration in my journey and to understand anything can be accomplished if you work for it.
Dean Mullins: Why are you passionate about the Smith School?
Ray: I’m passionate about the Smith School because this school has been a tool for growth, development and a catalyst for expanding my network. There are so many extraordinary students, faculty and resources that have shaped my career and journey. From the moment I was accepted, I knew this would be a place where I could challenge myself and step outside of my comfort zone while still having a great support system around me. It also helps that the Smith School is gaining recognition amongst top business schools around the country, and it always brings me great pleasure to call myself a student at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.