ST. PETERSBURG – Allison Wightman credits the inaugural University of South Florida Muma College of Business Speed Networking event for landing her first finance internship.
This spring, students packed Lynn Pippenger Hall at the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance in hopes of making professional connections at the Speed Networking event, which included companies such as Raymond James Financial, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Franklin Templeton, Enterprise, Manning & Napier, PwC, Jabil and more.
One of those students was Wightman, who recently switched her major from marketing to entrepreneurship with a minor in finance. After taking a finance class that she enjoyed, she met with career advisors to search for further direction. The advisors suggested that she attend the Speed Networking event.
“I didn’t want to jump the gun and change my major again,” Wightman said. “If I want a career in finance, this isn’t going to just fall into my lap, I need to make the most of it. I think networking is the most beneficial thing that you can do in college.”
The February Speed Networking event allowed 20 Muma College of Business students to meet with finance companies for five minutes each. Students were encouraged to make the most of their five-minute networking sessions by practicing their elevator pitches, asking employers for career advice, finding job leads, and setting up interviews.
Wightman knew that the Speed Networking event would give her a golden opportunity to meet with each company, and she wanted to be prepared to make her best impression on business professionals. So, she spent time researching the participating companies and looked up their key leaders’ profiles on LinkedIn.
Wightman’s networking skills proved successful when she connected with Jonathan Decker of Janney Montgomery Scott, who offered her an internship at the wealth management firm’s St. Petersburg office.
“Alli was the second student that we met with during speed networking,” Decker said. “She came prepared, handed me a resume, was dressed professionally, and gave us firm handshakes while making eye contact. She mentioned that she was very interested in wealth management — she understood what business we were representing.”
Now, four months after the networking event, Wightman is settling into her internship. She said she isn’t fetching coffee or running errands. She is learning skills that will prepare her for her finance career.
“I am doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I am helping build financial plans for their clients, I am researching treasury lost and found, I am assisting with marketing materials on LinkedIn, helping set up video shooting content, and I am sitting in on calls with clients and learning how to build relationships with clients,“ Wightman said.
The positive outcome isn’t one-sided. Decker is also pleased with the intern he gained through the Speed Networking event.
“Alli has done a great job,” Decker said. "It’s been an amazing success so far and we believe in Alli and USF St. Petersburg.”
Wightman is looking forward to the career ahead of her. She hopes to become a financial advisor at Janney Montgomery Scott upon her graduation in May 2024.