by Darla Vasquez - Jan 30, 2017
Joshua Neel is a senior policy analyst in the Texas Senate. Before moving to Austin to fill this role in early 2017, Neel worked as a consultant with Ernst & Young in New York. He graduated from the Rawls College of Business with a bachelor’s degree in finance with a concentration in investments. Neel is originally from Waco, Texas.
How have the skills you acquired through your finance degree helped in your career?
Finance didn’t start out as my passion, but I’ve grown to admire the subject for it’s practicality and flexibility as a profession. The skills I’ve learned have proven useful in a variety of situations and have opened many doors. You don’t have to choose finance, but I recommend investing in one or two rare and valuable skills that you’re interested in and becoming really good at them. That way, you’ll always be able to bring tangible value to any organization you join, and your talents in one area might even give you access to new areas you had not previously considered.
What did you do, as both a student and entry-level employee, to position yourself for success?
Although stressful at times, working part-time and getting as involved as possible in student organizations throughout college helped me learn how to handle pressure, prioritize tasks, and collaborate with others to get things done. After entering the professional world, I tried to maintain a mindset of curiosity and self-discipline. My advice is to never stop learning. Even after you get into a rhythm in your first job, read about new topics in your spare time, or set up meetings with innovative, creative people and brainstorm ideas together. Your job forms the framework for your career, but your determination to continue evolving is the engine that propels you forward.
What qualities do you (or your company) look for in recent graduates applying for entry-level positions?
Successful organizations should look for individuals who demonstrate integrity, show strong work ethic, and exhibit a pattern of overcoming obstacles and managing increasing responsibility.
What is your fondest memory of the Rawls College?
It’s a three-way toss-up! Spending an entire weekend in the Rawls College (sleeping bags, toothbrush, etc.) in order to finish a big project before an impending deadline; winning the EY beam abroad case competition with my peers; or relaxing with fellow students on the white-sand shores of Rio de Janeiro beneath the moonlit sky, laughing as we recounted familiar stories from our time spent at Rawls.
What advice would you give current students in the Rawls College who are interested in a career in finance?
Learn about all the different types of financial work that are available to you. For example, when I moved to New York, I gained a better understanding of investment banking, private equity, and hedge funds. If you decide finance is the direction you want to go, then really try to become an expert in your core finance classes: Financial Statement Analysis, Corporate Finance, Investments, and so on. Also, make sure you master your accounting classes, including Financial Accounting and Intermediate I and II, because you likely won’t want to spend time brushing up on those once you start working, yet they are completely essential to becoming a successful financial analyst.