Zachary Gunn may be the first Stetson undergraduate to receive a job offer from a top investment banking firm. This summer, Gunn will start his job at Goldman Sachs, the U.S.-based multinational corporation and one of the largest investment banking companies in the world.
After he graduates with a double degree in Economics and Finance, Gunn will travel to New York City where he will train with Goldman Sachs at their headquarters. On Aug. 1, he will assume his job in the global investment research division at the firm’s Salt Lake City, Utah, office.
However, the Tampa native doesn’t foresee his education ending anytime soon.
“To me, education is more of a lifestyle,” Gunn says. “It’s not something you do for 12 years or 16 years or however long. It’s something that is perpetually happening. I don’t think learning should be limited to the classroom.
“I found a lot of the faculty here, especially in the economics program, really push you. When you are interested in things outside of the classroom, like research or are how this idea that you learned in class connects with other ones, they really help push you that extra step. They foster that intellectual desire.”
During his first two years at Stetson, Gunn was “focused on the political aspects of economics. For a long time, I wanted to go into politics.”
That changed during his junior year when he took upper-level finance courses “and I found that I really enjoyed that,” he says. “Of course, working with the Roland George Investments Program and working with Dr. Ma has been huge.”
In the university’s pioneering Roland George Investments Program, students manage a real portfolio composed of $3.5 million in stocks and bonds. Roland George students function as an investment management firm would — they develop their own investment goals, objectives and criteria for managing their portfolio. The program is directed by K. C. Ma, Ph.D., Roland George Chair of Applied Investments, CFA.
“That’s been the greatest in terms of career readiness, in the sense that I feel a lot more confident going out now,” Gunn says. “I’m confident in the quality of my work, in the quality of my research. That’s really what Dr. Ma emphasizes and you certainly learn that.”
Gunn also assisted Ma in research that was published on the website seekingalpha.com, including such articles as “What Can the U.S. and China Tariffs Do to Micron’s Stock Price?,” “Maybe Elon Musk Should Take SpaceX Public Instead?” and “Stay Cool with Disney.”
As befits his “education as a lifestyle” philosophy, Gunn says working during his entire Stetson tenure as a resident assistant and in athletic marketing taught him valuable skills.
“Being a resident assistant teaches you conflict management, which is definitely applicable in the real world,” he says. “In the same respect, athletic marketing comes down to creativity and engagement in those type of things, which once again are very applicable.”
His athletic marketing position entailed arranging sponsorships and promotions for athletic events, boosting fan engagement through giveaways and other activities, posting on social media, and more.
“I had the opportunity to learn a lot of skills that I might not have picked up elsewhere, like I taught myself Adobe Creative Suite and a lot of video editing,” Gunn says. “Those type of things might not seem that applicable to the financial world, but you pick up as many skills as you can. You can never go wrong having a new skill set in life.”
How does an undergrad land a job at a prestigious firm such as Goldman Sachs?
“I made a short list of the top 10 companies that I would want to work for,” Gunn says. “Most of them I thought were total shots in the dark, that I would never get hired at any of them. But at the end of the day, I thought ‘Take 10 minutes and fill out an application. Why not give it a try’?”
He applied for a position with Goldman Sachs, and at the same time he noticed a Stetson alumnus who worked at the investment bank had a position opening up in his department.
Gunn, who prefers to keep the name of the alumnus confidential, reached out to him.
“He told me about the company, the process and all that kind of stuff,” Gunn says. He applied for a position in the alumnus’ department and in Goldman Sachs’ global investment research division. Gunn landed a video interview, which led to the global investment division flying him to Salt Lake City for a personal interview.
Gunn says he was told he is the first Stetson undergraduate to receive a job offer from a top investment banking firm.
Gunn says he is “not sure I can point to any singular event” that led to his successful tenure at Stetson, with the global investment banking world waiting just down the road. “But definitely the faculty overall have been excellent . . . . They always encourage you to take that extra step up in the classroom. That’s what it’s always been about.”
— Rick de Yampert