Two New Clubs Bring Business to Annapolis and Santa Fe Campuses
September 26, 2018 | By Kimberly Uslin
“Here at the college, we study the interconnection between many things,” says Ivan Syritsyn (A19). “I wanted to see how this way of studying would be transferred to something more material and connected to the outside world—how I could bring what I have learned and the skills I’ve developed to a real-world scenario.”
Syritsyn is one of about 15 students and recent alumni to join the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Liberal Arts (CELA), a new program offered through the Annapolis campus’ Career Services office. The initiative was conceived of by Steve Virgil (A88), who was part of a similar program at Wake Forest, where he teaches law.
“We worked with [Virgil] to develop it as a supplement to the Great Books program that gives students the foundation and background to create their own businesses,” says Jaime Dunn, director of Career Services, who runs the program on campus. “We have readings and speakers that talk about the nuts and bolts of business: marketing, ethics, management, accounting … we hope that they’ll stick with it and will have a final product that they’ll launch.”
Syritsyn, for his part, is experimenting with a method for maturing wine in three months (rather than the regular 15) without “detriment to taste.” His project combines elements learned from the Program with CELA’s more technical aspects.
“It’s wonderful that there is an opportunity for this sort of program,” he says.
In Santa Fe, business-minded students have started their own venture with help from the Office of Personal and Professional Development: the SJC Consulting Club.
“In my conversations with alumni, they all agreed that an SJC education is the best preparation for a career in consulting,” says Avinash Kumar (SF21), one of the club’s founders. “The challenges in consulting are similar to what we face in the Program. Every single project is a different journey, and you have to deal with ideas from a multitude of disciplines while preserving rigor in whatever you do.”
Kumar says he began the club “selfishly;” after discovering St. John’s, he put aside his plans to become an aerospace engineer and decided to pursue consulting.
“The career options that SJC opens are different,” he says. “In a way, it gets me closer to actually leading, actually making a difference.”
Kumar joined forces with three other students—Aviral Chawla (SF21), Anjelo Reyes (SF21), and Wesley Weissend (SF21)—and formed the Consulting Club. Though the club is in its early stages, Kumar says he and his colleagues plan to implement a speaker series featuring alumni who work in consulting and can speak to the recruiting process and job challenges. They are planning student-led series of workshops, too, in which participants can begin to understand what it means to be a consultant by being given a case and attempting to solve it by articulating problems and coming up with solutions.
Their eventual goal is to be able to put their work into practice by doing pro bono work for local businesses and nonprofits, though Kumar says they’re being realistic.
“We’re just starting off. We’re learning on the job,” he says. “We can’t just go into a Fortune 500 company and say we can offer help, but we can use our Johnnie experience to impact these multifaceted problems. We can look at reports and stories without much background and make sense of it, like Johnnies do.”