Published: September 11, 2015
At its first meeting of the semester, the PRISM club had attendance skyrocket like never before with attendance of over 100 students. Many curious, excited and energetic underclassmen visiting for the first time listened as the co-managers Jimmy Jencerelli, Alex Hoffmann and Robert DiBella presented on what the aim of the club is, how it is structured and what is expected of members.
“PRISM is one of those clubs where its members can really benefit in their careers, as opposed to others on campus,” Alex Hoffmann, said he was recently promoted to the leadership from his position as the technology sector head.
“It is a great opportunity to meet upperclassmen. Not to mention, you finally have a chance to get hands-on experience with finance as opposed to the qualitative things you learn in the classroom”.
PRISM, which stands for Portfolio of Responsible Investments under Student Management, is a student-run organization where roughly $330,000 of the University’s endowment fund is managed by investing in stocks to increase wealth. With Bloomberg terminals at their disposal, students debate at the meetings over what actions the club should take. Activities mainly center around the buying and selling of shares. When it comes to buying stock to add to a portfolio, students must research potential companies and then present their best case to buy in the form of a “pitch”. If the general consensus of the club membership is in agreement after a presentation, then the student’s offer is approved. On the other hand, selling shares is just as important to maintain the overall health of the portfolio. The members debate over the holdings in terms of how they stand currently and where they are expected to go. If a holding seems particularly negative, students can again create a pitch to sell off the offending stock.
Although the club deals primarily with financial matters, it is not only open to those with financial or economic backrounds. The club is open to students in every major. This is a point that the current leadership is trying to emphasize this semester.
“Personally, I was intimidated to attend my first meetings,” Alex Hoffmann Siad. “Since I was an e-commerce major, my education is mostly involved with computers, networking, and so on. It didn’t seem like I would fit into the club. However, my knowledge in technology made me an invaluable asset for the technology holdings.
“Hopefully, my unconventional major will be a testament to the fact that any major can contribute and will encourage other majors to join. Hoffman added, “Members can contribute their own unique educations to help the club by becoming advisors for certain kinds of stocks. For example, biology majors may track and advise on biotech companies.”
PRISM can also serve as a great networking opportunity to meet upperclassmen and connect with alumni who have participated in the past. Founded in 1999 by Riaz Hussein Ph.D., it has built up its own community over the years as more and more students involved in the organization graduate to join the workforce. Hoffman cited networking as being a principle reason for prospective members to join. “What I liked about PRISM was not just what I could learn from it, but also the chance to make relationships with the best and brightest in Kania School of Management. Hoffman said Something that underclassmen must learn quickly is that, in the business world, who you know is everything. Going to Scranton is already a plus, since the alumni network is fantastic. Still, being a part of a tight-knit community within Scranton could help you out even more as you enter the workforce.”
“Meeting alumni who were involved, could give you an extra thing to talk about It shows that you are involved on campus and can possibly lead to your resume falling into the right hands.”
When asked about why students should be interested in finance at all, especially when it is not one’s major, Hoffmann said it is an important skill that everyone should know. “Finance can be dry at times, but it is imperative that all students have at least a basic concept of its functionality. No matter who you are, you will have to handle you own finances at some point, whether it is managing debt, your eventual 401k, or your own personal stocks to increase your wealth.
Being involved in PRISM can help you learn these concepts, and participating in this club will look good on any resume as it shows that you have hands-on experience in a subject that all too many students take for granted.”