Southeast Missouri State University finance major Chester Williams refined his financial planning skills this summer during the Wells Fargo Advisors Student Leadership Institute: Developing Future Leaders in St. Louis, Missouri.
“I’ve always wanted to be a financial advisor; this was a perfect fit for me,” said Williams. “My time at the Institute was filled with leadership development, networking and learning about careers at Wells Fargo.”
The Institute offered a unique opportunity for a select group of students interested in learning more about financial services and exploring careers within the financial services industry. The weeklong program provided students a hands-on educational experience and gave them a deeper understanding of Wells Fargo Advisors and the definition of a leader.
The program helped him to identify his strengths, talents and personal work style while giving him personal development guidance.
“I loved the resume portion because I spend a lot of time researching and tweaking my resume,” he said. “The dress for success presentation was the most impactful because I try to dress my best to make a great first impression.”
The strong networking and personal development skills he then put into action while working with Wells Fargo advisors and real clients from Grace Hill Settlement House, a social service provider in the St. Louis area, said Williams.
During the program, Williams teamed with three other students to study Grace Hill’s Peace Park initiative to identify its internal strengths and weaknesses as well as its external opportunities and threats. His team presented their SWOT analysis findings in a competition to win “best pitch” and a monetary donation for the Grace Hill’s program.
“It was intimidating at first because I had to give an impromptu pitch to the Wells Fargo Community Affairs team and Grace Hill’s president and chief executive officer,” said Williams. “I lead off the presentation and spoke about the strengths of this program, such as the fact that it brings an investment into the visual revitalization of the community.”
Believing in the program’s positive mission for Peace Park helped him overcome his initial fears while presenting, he said. The initiative seeks to create a place of beauty for the residents and neighborhood in north St. Louis city, and provides opportunities for urban farming and community activities.
“I quickly realized that this program had a lot of upsides for the community, and I believed in its goal,” said Williams. “My team won the ‘pitch’ competition and $5,000 for Peace Park.”
One of the most important lessons he learned from the program was how being a good leader can have a positive influence on his job, Williams said. This was made clear when he got to meet some of the leadership and managers at Wells Fargo Advisors.
“Leaders help people through times of change,” he said. “Each leader told us about their own individual journey and perspectives about leadership. This opened my eyes and helped me understand leadership as it pertains to the working world.”
This experience broadened his perspective and made him aware that a career in the financial services industry can be more than just being a stockbroker, analyst or financial advisor, said Williams.
“My education is just the starting point, and I need to be ready to perform once I get out into the working world,” he said. “Taking my experiences outside of the classroom and applying those skills to my future positions” is critical.