Victor Mullins, associate dean of the undergraduate program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, recently asked Zach Joyner '19 to discuss how being a part of the Smith journey has helped him find his passion and provided the opportunities to pursue it. Zach is majoring in finance and minoring in technology entrepreneurship.
What does the SMITH JOURNEY entail? Involvement with colleagues, professors, professionals, clubs, and organizations here at the Smith School, across campus and in the outside “real” world of business. Here is what students are challenged to do in each of their four years at Smith:
Freshmen: “Build Your Brand” through the SmithStart program.
Sophomores: “Pioneer Your Path” to success by focusing on an overall academic and career strategy.
Juniors: “Command Your Career” to ensure that you are well positioned for your professional journey.
Seniors: “Embrace Your Experience” with an arsenal of tools, knowledge, and networks, so that you are able to embrace your experience and celebrate your success.
Dean Mullins: What is important to you? What motivates you? What is your passion? Why?
Zachary: I pride myself on leadership and making a difference. Throughout my academic career, I have always valued involving myself in meaningful opportunities where I can have an impact. In high school, I served as vice president of the student body, a position that I was elected to by my peers. It was also a stepping-stone where I quickly learned about my passion to help people accomplish their goals and aspirations by providing them with the best resources and mentorship. Being a mentor and leader is so important to me because, throughout my growth, I had so many mentors who encouraged me to beat the odds of my circumstances. From these mentors, I received guidance and resources that helped me to dream big and to pursue my greatest aspirations, notwithstanding some of the personal and financial struggles that my brother and I encountered by being solely raised by our mother. I am very fortunate for the mentors in my life who provided dedicated support and guidance.
I am passionate about being a mentor and providing access to resources and support that help others achieve their goals. My motivation is derived from the support system that I had growing up. I am so grateful for my family - my mother, grandma, grandpa, brother, and close extended family are always at the core of my achievements. Without their support and guidance, I would be nowhere close to being the person I am today.
Dean Mullins: When and how were you able to identify this passion?
Zachary: There was not an exact moment that I identified my passion for leadership. Instead, it was a combination of me being an outgoing person, engaging in diverse activities that interested me throughout my youth. And, currently, I have had successive opportunities to lead teams, serve on boards, and carry out leadership roles. Each has encouraged my passion for contributing to and helping others. Since my freshman year at Maryland, I am realizing my passion for leading by living and serving within more than four diverse organizations across the University and providing positive impacts to many members of each community. I also was chosen for a highly selective professional opportunity to intern with LinkedIn in their Global Sales Organization in San Francisco this summer. I look forward to continuing on this path to receive training and guidance from a tech industry leader known for its unique ability to connect people, valuable professional resources, and their career aspirations.
Dean Mullins: How have you been able to connect your passion with coursework, involvements and/or activities?
Zachary: A balanced academic and extracurricular course-load has always been important to my success in school; focusing on mixing coursework with real-world experiences. My focus on extracurricular activities helps to bring extra value and being able to apply my classroom knowledge to the real world. I have aligned my academic goals and extracurricular experiences by involving myself in a well-rounded course load and a diverse range of extracurricular activities. These activities have included serving as a mentor for the College Success Scholars Program; being a teaching assistant for Entrepreneurial Opportunity Analysis (ENES 210); being a member of the Hinman CEOs Living-and-Learning Entrepreneurship Program; serving as academic chair for Phi Gamma Delta fraternity; being a summer 2017 intern in the PNC Bank Commercial Banking group in Ohio; being a 2017-18 Fellow in the National Management Leadership for Tomorrow Career Prep program; and also being selected to participate in the inaugural 2017-18 class for Amazon’s Finance Diversity Leadership Summit in Seattle, Washington. These diverse experiences have provided a platform for me to apply my knowledge and skills to real-world situations, while also sharing these opportunities and resources with my peers at Maryland/Smith.
Dean Mullins: What are the highlights of your Smith journey thus far?
Zachary: My highlights begin with the journey, itself, to gain admission into Smith from the College of Letters and Sciences. I began my academic career at Maryland as a Freshmen Connection student, where I was not settled on a major or on what I wanted to study. Once I decided to pursue finance, I knew I was competing against the odds to receive admittance into the Smith School. I hustled throughout my freshman year and summer to build an attractive application to the admissions committee. Fortunately, after completing my gateway courses, I received acceptance into Smith during the spring 2016 semester. I have not looked back since. There is no doubt that Smith has been the right fit for my interests and capabilities. As a member of the Smith community, I have engaged in rigorous coursework, built lifelong relationships, and received access to so many incredible opportunities, including the Sports Management Fellowship program. This has been a true highlight for me as I have always followed sports and the business of sports. The Sports Management Fellows has allowed me to participate in sports business case studies, attend networking panels, and meet established individuals in the sports business industry. Another highlight that really stands out to me from my Smith journey is the community of scholars I have met. The Smith community is filled with such high-achieving business students that hustle, encourage excellence, innovate new ideas, and proudly represent the Maryland/Smith brand.
Dean Mullins: What advice would you give to your fellow Smith peers and community?
Zachary: Stay hungry and not let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your dreams! We are at the Smith School of Business because we have pursued and exemplified excellence throughout our academic careers. Through Smith, we are provided with one of the best platforms to excel in our career aspirations, but we must always be hungry to achieve more and be ready to work for it. It is crucial to utilize this platform to network, seek guidance, and to create and leverage opportunities that will serve as stepping-stones in your professional journey. The journey may not always seem clear, but it does not have to. My best friend always said to me these simple, yet meaningful, words: “life, live it,” which I interpret as, “Enjoy the ride.”
Dean Mullins: Why are you passionate about the Smith School?
Zachary: I am passionate about Smith’s people, its opportunities, its advisors – and just the overall community. Smith has served as a major platform that has encouraged me to always strive for excellence while keeping a “hustle” mentality. My advisors have provided a support system that has allowed me to organize my schedule and engage in a course load aligned with my interests that both serve as exceptional preparation for my career upon graduation. I really cannot give enough thanks to the people I have met in Smith for always being in my corner, for being highly supportive, and for their willingness to help. I have made many lifelong friends who I know will achieve greatness. I am definitely looking forward to working with them in the future. I value all the experiences and opportunities that Smith has provided, and I cannot wait to represent it with the greatest amount of pride once I graduate.
For more information about the undergraduate program at Smith, visit: www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad.