“I felt I was not learning the practical skills I would need to succeed,” explained Wallace as his motivation for organizing the seminar. Based on similar programs found at Harvard, Berkeley and Dartmouth, the seminar at Amherst will differ in that, in addition to teaching skills, it will involve alumni who have already entered the business world. “To bring people back and say what they were thinking when they graduated, how they got into business and what path they took-I think that will be really valuable,” said Wallace.
Ranging from vice presidents to treasurers of large companies, all 40 of the Amherst alumni are enthusiastic about having an opportunity to give back to the community. In addition to the alumni, Wallace has arranged for Professor of Economics Frank Westhoff and a professor from Smith College to teach parts of the seminar as well.
Interested in business since high school, organizing programs is not new for Wallace. “I started an internet business in high school and I found it really fulfilling and rewarding. I’ve done some stuff here too. I started a landscaping business.” Now, Wallace hopes to help others discover the business world.
“In an economy like we have now, businesses are going to pick someone who has skills over someone who has no skills” he said. “At Amherst you learn how to learn, but unfortunately you can leave Amherst wanting to be in investment banking and not even knowing what a stock really is. I wanted at least to be able to show up anywhere and kind of know what I was talking about.” After this winter, 75 other students will too.