Alumni Stories

Meet Benny Johnston, ‘20

As a current junior at the Lundquist College of Business, I have heard many times that networking and outreach are some of the most important steps to success in the business world. Recently, I interviewed UO Alum Benny Johnston and was interested to learn about how networking impacted his career search.

Benny Johnston graduated in June 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Sports Business concentration. Currently, Benny works as Wealth Advisory Client Service Associate at BBR Partners in San Francisco. His role is focused on client-facing wealth management. He does the physical trading, opens accounts, and facilitates client transactions. During his time at UO, Benny was heavily involved in the Warsaw Sports Business club and was a Career Peer Advisor for Mohr Career Services. We talked about networking, job search, and his advice to current students.

I asked Benny for one or two tips he could share with current students who are looking for internships or jobs.

Benny’s advice for current students:  

“My biggest tip is to do informational interviews.”

Benny stressed how important it is to conduct informational interviews with people who work in industries/firms that interest you. In his experience, learning to talk to a wide variety of people in a professional setting prepares students for interviews and general professional life. He emphasized that job search is a slow but steady process, and that it can take months to find a job.

When we talked about networking, Benny pointed out that,

“There’s more to networking than sending an email or LinkedIn request.”

He noted how important it is to go beyond the initial outreach and send thank you emails/messages, check-ins, and how essential it is to prepare thoughtful questions to ask the professionals you are interviewing.

Benny’s first job was at a finance startup called ALT and after two years he moved on to his current job. When I asked him how he made the decision to move on from his first job, Benny noted that working at a startup provided him with lots of flexibility and a casual atmosphere, which he clearly appreciated, stating,

“I loved working at a startup, the people were brilliant, and it offered unrivaled flexibility.”

However, Benny was also keeping an eye on the rocky job market and wanted to move somewhere with more job security.

As students, I know most of us are so busy thinking about getting that first career job out of school that we don’t necessarily think about what comes next. I was curious about the steps Benny took to pivot from his first job to his current position.

Benny told me that he first refined what he enjoyed about financial services. He further narrowed his search to client-facing family services because that is the lane where he thought he would be most comfortable, and he felt it would offer growth potential.

Benny advised students to reflect on what they like doing within their classes and clubs and to look for jobs that provide them with similar opportunities. When looking back on his own career journey, Benny reported that he wished he started his career exploration process earlier and that he had begun conducting informational interviews and other outreach sooner. Noting how important it is to build skills and experience, Benny said he also wished he worked the summer after freshman year, even if it wasn’t business-related, just to get the process started.

The big takeaway here is to get started NOW! Start reaching out to alums and other professionals for informational interviews. Every conversation you have will help inform your career exploration process.

If you would like some help with developing an outreach strategy, schedule an appointment with one of our Mohr Career Services advisors.

By Gabe
Gabe Career Peer Educator