Colin Grunewald

Beware: accounting ahead.

TCU positioned Colin Grunewald to meet his accounting fear head-on

Hometown: Victoria, Texas.
Former life: Worked in New York City as a trader.
Current career: Underwriter, GE Capital Real Estate.
Cool fact: He traveled with TCU to the Dominican Republic to learn how a micro-lending program changes lives.

Back to basics: Despite his NYC trading experience, Colin had little formal training in business fundamentals. But once the classes began — and the focus was on management-level thinking  — everyone forgot who the undergrad business majors were. There was still that one fear: accounting. “Accounting was the class that scared me the most. I thought there would be all these accountants in there — and then me. But it’s taught from a macro view. It’s more useful to know what the implications are in those financial statements than exactly how to prepare them.”

Once more, with feeling: Many traders who left New York jobs in 2009 had no choice. For Colin, it was a deliberate decision. “Our business was doing great, but I wasn’t fulfilled by the line of work. I was just a middleman negotiating between a buyer and seller. There was no ‘end’ of my results but money. I’d like to get to where I’m building something or creating something.”

Connected and ready: Colin didn’t want an MBA program where students march through anonymously. “I’ve got a buddy at a business school where the yearly class is 300 or so, and he doesn’t really know anyone. Here I know all the people in my class. I think my B-school connections will be much richer.” 

On track to a great career: He landed an internship at Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate and investment management firm with more than 30,000 employees. “I wanted to gain a base understanding of commercial real estate, learn the lingo and make connections to help me land a full-time job.”

Global perspectives: Learning how micro-loans change lives in the Dominican Republic showed him a different side of business. A loan of just $50 could launch a business buying gas and repackaging it into 20-ounce Coke bottles.“Visiting with the people there showed me real entrepreneurship. I got to meet people who are starting companies, being creative and taking risks simply because they have no other options. As cliche as it sounds, it demonstrated firsthand that hard work, persistence and risk can pay off.”

Invest wisely:
TCU makes the cut on Forbes magazine’s list of B-schools with the best return on investment. But how do you know the degree is worth it? “In 15-20 years, you’ll ask, could I have done all this without an MBA? After all, I had a decent paying job before I started my MBA. But I wanted more. I wanted a different type of career. I wanted a formal business background. So, for me, it’s worth it already.”

CEO contacts: He had dinner with Mike Berry, CEO of Hillwood, and talked shop with John Davis, TCU alum and founder of 1-800-Flowers. And he met with investment guru Warren Buffett, something he never imagined. “I shook the hand of one of the wealthiest men in the world!"

Tips for finding a great internship

Use career services as much as possible, but do not rely on them to get you a job. The onus is on you. 

Start working on landing your internship from day one. It will pay off.

Set up as many informational interviews as possible. Go to networking events and speaker series.

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