Tufts Financial Network
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Justin Nelson, A98: Opening Doors to Students at JP Morgan

Justin Nelson, A98When Justin Nelson, A98, was a junior at Tufts, he wanted a summer internship in the finance industry. But he didn't know how to find one.

The Tufts Financial Network, an affinity group for finance professionals that helps students find jobs in finance, among other projects, didn't exist yet, and Nelson never saw a financial firm recruiting on campus. Luckily, he had friends in the industry and they were able to help. Nelson landed an internship as a web developer at J.P. Morgan in New York City and was hired full time upon graduating with a degree in chemistry and economics. He eventually took a job in its private banking division and was promoted to managing director in asset management, based in Greenwich, Conn.

Nelson decided to help more Tufts students find their way to J.P. Morgan. In 2006, he began the process of making Tufts one of the asset management group's core schools, a designation the firm gives to the colleges and universities where it actively recruits potential interns and employees.

"Part of my mission was to give Jumbos what I didn't have," he says. Nelson traveled to the Hill, collected résumés, and met with students. When he started, he was on his own. From making travel arrangements to paying for hotel rooms, rental cars, and meals, he didn't receive the financial or staff support from J.P. Morgan that a representative from a core school would.

Initially, he collected relatively few résumés and met with a small number of students, but soon he was attracting more interest and began selecting Tufts students for paid internships and entry-level jobs. The new hires and interns, most of whom took full-time positions after graduating, proved themselves quite capable, and in 2009, Tufts became a core school. Since Nelson began his efforts, 20 Tufts graduates have interned for J.P. Morgan in asset management or were hired for a full-time job.

One of those graduates is Jon Trott, A10. He was seeking an internship during the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, a time when few firms were recruiting. J.P. Morgan was one of them, though, and it hired him for a summer 2009 internship. "To be honest, without [Justin's] help, I don't know if I'd be where I am," says Trott, who took a full-time position at J.P. Morgan after graduating with a degree in economics in 2010.

Thanks in large part to Nelson, there is now a strong network of Tufts alumni at J.P. Morgan who are helping him attract Tufts students by serving on recruiting committees, screening résumés, visiting campus, and making themselves available to students. Nelson has also volunteered for the Tufts Financial Network by speaking at one of its Wall Street Crash Courses, which helps Tufts students learn the basics of the finance industry.

Although Nelson is modest about his role, he's thrilled about the increased connection between Tufts and the financial world, including his own firm. "It's great," says Nelson, who met his wife, Ashleigh Banwell, J97, at Tufts. "We're helping out people who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their career. We're helping Tufts, and we're hiring good people."

Nelson hopes that fellow alumni who are involved in recruiting also remember their alma mater. He says, "I strongly encourage them to advocate for Tufts and Tufts students within their firms."

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