Alumni Profile: New York Edition

We caught up with two Marshall alumni in New York, Elizabeth Braun (Class of 2006) and Connie Jao (Class of 2013). They are both on the board of Marshall Alumni Association- New York Chapter, which held their annual 2015 Mentorship Program event this month.

We gave them some pop questions about their time at USC and what they’re up to now:

Living in New York

EB: I always wanted to live in New York. I came without a job. I was standing in a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf store in LA and there was a mug that said, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I didn’t like what I was doing at the time so I decided to go. I met up with a recruiter when I got here.  She sent me on a few different interviews and I just ended up clicking really well with one company and have been there for 7.5 years now.  I work for an investment manager of hedge funds. 

Favorite Memory at USC

CJ: I did an internship through the Winslow Maxwell Global Summer Internship at Marshall.

I really wanted to go to London, and the program interviewed me to place me in an internship. I was interested in finance, but didn't have much experience and was fortunate to be placed in a venture capital firm.

I had a phenomenal experience. I was able to look at different investments in online gaming, which was the hot tech trend that summer.The CEOs would come to talk about their start ups, and see if we wanted to invest. The deal I was a part of just closed, and I went to that startup a few days a week and sort of interne there too. They basically let me figure things out on my own, and said “if you really want to make a difference, it’s up to you to find the problem and fix it.”

I did a lot of research and proposed the idea of targeting middle market customers, not just the large institutional firms, to the CEO. He said, “All right, go into sales meeting and start pitching it.” We ended up having multiple sales meetings set up, and they did jokingly call that product “Connie” for a while.

Favorite Class

EB: Marketing Fundamentals (BUAD 307) with Professor James Ellis (now Dean of Marshall). I was so interested in the topic.  There were academic portions of the class, but it blended with the real life applications so well.

It was around the time American Apparel was growing, and we went to the factory, spoke to the CEO, saw how the clothes were being made and how they were being marketed.  They were one of the few companies in their industry focusing on a Made in America marketing campaign at that time. It was cool to see how they were doing manufacturing in the US.  

Trojan Alumni in New York

Even though there are a lot fewer of us here than in L.A., I wouldn’t look at it as, “We’re disadvantaged because there are other schools here that are more widely represented.”

I view that as an advantage because the people who are out here are even more eager to support each other. The alumni are more willing to actively help because there are so few of us here.

Networking Opportunities

EB: We always try to do a happy hour/mixer type event in Midtown at the beginning of summer to welcome everyone who has come out to New York for internships and jobs.  

CJ: We kicked off the 2015 Mentorship Program with a panel discussion and a networking reception. The event was based on the power of mentorship, so it was focused on how you should make the most out of mentorship. In early January, everyone sent in their applications for the program and we matched up the applicants. The event was an opportunity for the mentors and mentees to meet each other.

Advice for Students

EB: I would say really to get those internships. I think that prepares you best for going out there and working. And also keeping a good attitude. One of my cinema professors said,  “You’re never too good to get someone else a cup of coffee.” I feel like if you always keep that attitude, it helps keep you grounded. He had worked in the film industry for 30-40 years, but was humble enough to go get someone a coffee. 

8 Reasons Why We Love USC

We may be biased, but we think the Trojans can't be beat. From being one of the most spirited colleges to one of the most academic,it's the perfect combination of work hard, play hard. There are many reasons we love 'SC, but here are just a couple that we're known for:

1. The Trojan Family is real. I mean, just look at Will Ferrell cheering us on:

via The Huffington Post

via The Huffington Post

2. There are two colors we can agree on to always be tasteful: cardinal and gold.


3. These study spots make the academics part a little easier.


Study spot waiting for you.

A photo posted by USC Marshall (@uscmarshall) on


4. Our lives are basically a movie set. Oh hello, Viola Davis. 

5. The alums have your back; whether you're looking for career advice or just a plain old chat, they're there to answer any questions you may have.

6. Football season at brings out the best Trojan spirit in everyone. When you see the coliseum filled with every student rooting for one cause, you can't help but feel immensely proud of your school.

7. Need I say more than "the weather?" Students complain about five days in a year it rains because every other day, there's bright sunshine.

8. Because this happened:


Richard Haynes (left) and Max Fitzgerald (right) met through Marshall Partners (Courtesy of Max Fitzgerald)

Alumni Profile: Richard Haynes & Max Fitzgerald 

To kick off our regular updates in the Marshall community, we spoke with two alumni who have become business partners after meeting through Marshall Partners.

Richard Haynes (class of 2007) founded Elwood Capital Group, a real estate investment company, a year after graduating from Marshall. He brought on Max Fitzgerald (class of 2012) to the Los Angeles-based company after making a connection through their interest in entrepreneurship.  Now they're a two-man team looking to grow the business day by day.

Q: Why did you go into real estate investment?

RH: I noticed that a lot of wealthy people own real estate or got wealthy after owning real estate. You don't have to start your own business model from the scratch-- like Pete Carroll did with USC, you can take a successful business model and apply it, and you're going to be just as successful. I found that it's a low-risk job that compensates well.

MF: I've always admired the real estate business. I was doing sales at another company; it was paid pretty well, but it was just something I didn't see a future in. I was referred to Richard because he was the shareholder representative of the South Bay/ Long Beach division. I liked his entrepreneurial spirit. I didn't have any real estate experience, but making connection with Richard, I thought there was a ton of synergy. I left my job and joined with Richard, and I've been really happy. 

Q: What are the challenges when you're first building up a company?

RH: The biggest thing is reputation and resume. When I started at 23, someone who had a million dollars to invest would look at a 23-year-old with very little experience and a 40 year old with years of experience. Building your resume, convincing people you can do it just as well or better; building a good reputation with that first client is important. 

I learned from my entrepreneur professors at USC that the first people that are gonna believe in your are family, friends, and fools. You need to find one of those three.

Q: What's the biggest difference between working a in large, corporate company and a smaller, expanding company?

MF: In a large company, you have one role and you're defined to that role. In a company like ours, it's you two, and you're going to have to do everything and work never really stops. Each day is not the same as the next day. It's a really dynamic environment, but it's fun. You need to have an entrepreneurial spirit. 

Q: You had several internships during your time at USC. How did you go about getting those jobs?

RH: The Trojan Family. The owner of Casa Capital was a Trojan. 

Q: Advice for students trying to get their foot in the door?

RH: Just get internships no matter if they pay well or not. I worked as a camp counselor one year at a private school, and I worked for a public relations and advertising company and I worked for a multitude of other companies. I found out I hated PR and advertising and I really enjoyed working at a camp. I really like real estate and mortgage landing. I think I came out ok, and everyone just needs experience as much as I can. 

MF: I think the biggest asset to 'SC is the network. The people who you make friends with, whoever is in your fraternity. Offer to work for free, do an internship, set up dinner every month, and figure out what you want to do.

Before the interview was over, Haynes said, "I gotta give Marshall Partners some love."

He described his experience: Let me just tell you, I think Marshall Partners is an amazing resource for young USC students, whether you're Marshall or not Marshall. I have done real estate deals with people through Marshall Partners. Max, who has now come on board, I met him through Marshall Partners. Look, it's hard to network and Marshall Partners is a network that makes it easier and delivers. Click here to learn more about USC Marshall Partners.



Memorable Marshall Moments

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