Even before Neel graduated from UCLA with a degree in Business Economics and Accounting, he realized he wanted to channelize all that he learned as an undergraduate student toward finance. As he explored master’s degree programs, he was attracted to Vanderbilt because of the tight-knit community, the ranking of both the MSF program and the university, the variety of courses offered, and the “academic rigor demanded by the program, which is amplified by the Mod system.”
In all of those ways, Neel says, Vanderbilt delivered on his expectations—and equipped him to land a job on Wall Street after graduation. And yet, when he reflects on the highlights of his experience in the program, he starts by emphasizing the various dimensions of the supportiveness of the Owen community: “the helpfulness of the Career Management Center in the recruiting process; the willingness of alumni, faculty, and staff to go out of their way to help students; and the seminars and working lunches we had throughout the year.”
Neel also singles out how Owen helped him strengthen the all-important “soft” skills. “The program enabled me to improve my networking skills through its vast and approachable alumni base and by emphasizing the importance of creating a strong, reliable, and resourceful network,” he says. And by participating in the Leadership Development Program and using resources such as the Hogan Assessment, he adds, “I now better understand myself—my strengths, weaknesses, and what I need to do to progress in a work setting.”
Availing himself of such resources beyond the classroom was part of a larger lesson that Neel learned. “To make the most of your time at Vanderbilt,” he says, “participate in as many activities on campus as possible.” (He also enjoyed off-campus activities such as trips to Prince’s Hot Chicken and the Parthenon) “The MSF program is very short, and if you’re fixated on just one thing, you’ll miss out on so many great things that Owen, Vanderbilt, and Nashville have to offer.”
Fun Fact: Neel is an international-level carrom player who represented the United States at the 2016 Carrom World Championship.
If you’re fixated on just one thing, you’ll miss out on so many great things that Owen, Vanderbilt, and Nashville have to offer.