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Mark Silvester

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'14 Economics | Associate Financial Professional, Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. | Pittsburgh, PA
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Mark Silvester

Liberal Arts Major: Economics

Liberal Arts Minor: Business and the Liberal Arts

Hometown: Franklin Park, PA

Current Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Tell us about enrichment activities you participated in as a student.

I was certainly not as involved as I would like to have been. I spent a lot of my free time and summers working as a delivery driver at the now defunct Pita Pit and as a banquet server at the Ramada, serving all the away football teamsquite an experience!

Tell us about your first job after graduating from Penn State.

I was a registered client service associate at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. I left that role and the firm after about three years, but have since returned in a new position.

What was your favorite class and/or who was your favorite faculty member?

Economic Demography with David Shapiro was the most interesting and, in hindsight, valuable course I took at Penn State. At the time I didn't appreciate the class or professor as much as I should have, but I learned so muchnot only about specific case studies, but also lessons I use to this day regarding how to apply the principals of resource allocation and, more or less, doing the best I can with what I have. Dr. Shapiro had spent years on the ground working and researching in Zaire (now DRC) and brought firsthand, real-world knowledge to the classroom.

How did your liberal arts education and skills prepare you for life after graduation?

I think a huge benefit of a liberal arts education is that it gives you the building blocks but allows YOU the freedom to assemble them as you see fit. As an Economics major who also took a lot of additional coursework both inside and outside of the College of the Liberal Arts, I left Penn State with a great many of those building blocks. Some apply directly to what I do today, and others—perhaps more importantly—have simply been helpful in making sense of the world.

In what ways has networking influenced your career?

Unless you're in a niche field, you're probably going to run into people that can do materially the same things as you. There will always be other qualified candidates for the job; or, as it applies to my current role, there will always be another financial adviser that can provide more or less the same services I can. In addition to availing you of opportunities you may have otherwise missed, networking allows you get your own name and brand out there and differentiate yourself. My top piece of advice is to start early!

What role have mentors played in your career progression?

While I did not take advantage of mentor programs during my own time at Penn State, I've benefited personally and professionally from informal mentorship. During my first stint at Oppenheimer, I worked under financial advisers of varying backgrounds and approaches who helped me to envision how I would build my own advisory practice. During my time in regulatory compliance, I worked with industry thought leaders who drove my professional development by encouraging me to publish my own work. On a personal level, I am fortunate enough to have two very close relatives who have helped me to understand what's truly important in life and guided my development. While I've been lucky, I think formal mentorship programs are important because it can be difficult—even awkward—to engage potential mentors, and the alumni program eases the process.

LinkedIn Profile 

Flashback to Mark as an Undergrad:

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