Benhardt Christson ’19.
(Photo: Jennifer Lance ’20)
Senior accounting and finance major Benhardt Christson learned from his first directed field experience that pushing through frustration is a necessary part of success. Between his sophomore and junior years, he organized the area’s first Daniel Boone Splash and Dash, a swimming and running event for kids, sponsored by local businesses. Even though the event was free, Ben struggled to garner parents’ enthusiasm. But, by the end, the event attracted children from throughout the central Kentucky region and even from out of state.
“The biggest lesson was to always have a smile on your face and push through frustration,” Christson said.
He applied that lesson during his second DFE experience, working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“I wasn’t confident in my ability to fit in,” he said, noting an environment filled with serious people in business suits. “At Berea, even though we have labor positions, there’s still an understanding that we’re students trying to gain professional skills. But in this setting, practice was over.”
But again he learned something beyond the fundamentals of finance. “I became more confident because I figured out they were just everyday people trying to make a living for themselves,” he said. “The fear went away when I actually got to talk to them.”
While interning with the financial investment group, Christson learned the ropes of evaluating clients based on their time horizon—how long they had to work until they retired, what their risk preferences were and how much liquidity they wanted. He also interviewed people he was working with, including the market director for the entire Ohio Valley market.
“I was able to tap his brain about where the firm is headed and what challenges they face,” Christson said.
His next challenge comes the summer after he graduates, when he will join an entry-level program with Goldman Sachs.
“Without the DFEs,” Christson said, “this opportunity wouldn’t be feasible. When I came in as a first-year student, Goldman Sachs wasn’t even in my purview of a job I could actually land. Through the EPG program and the two DFEs, I’ve made myself competitive.”