The School of Business Investment Program at the College of Charleston began in 2013 with a cohort of 20 students managing a public asset portfolio of $50,000. Today, around 140 students have participated in the program and a structure of three managed funds totaling nearly $400,000.
Managed within the School of Business Department of Finance, the program provides a distinctive opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience with both public and private investments, thus equipping them with unparalleled experiential learning that will advance them academically, personally and professionally.
Sheri and Kevin Mullen, parents of Investment Program alumnus Sean Mullen ’21, were so impressed with the impact it had on their son’s time at the College that they invested in the program themselves. The Mullen Family Investment Program Professional Development Endowment will allow the program to provide even more unique and distinguishing professional development opportunities to students now and into the future. They also contributed immediate-use funds so that the impact can be seen while the endowment is growing.
A driving force in the Mullens’ decision to invest in the program was Sean’s personal experience. He loved having the real-life opportunity to manage investment portfolios and having direct influence on the funds’ performance by proposing investment ideas to fuel their growth.
“Being surrounded by a group of diverse and talented students, advisors and mentors has broadened, challenged and ultimately strengthened my thought processes and enhanced my communication skills, which will result in a competitive advantage in the job market,” says Sean.
Like the investment decisions in the hands of the students (but overseen by faculty), the decisions about how the Mullen Family funds will be used are also led by the Investment Program students. The funds will support activities such as professional certifications and designations, travel to industry conferences and networking events, and purchases such as electronic training programs and materials and Financial Services Lab assets.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to see the joy the Investment Program has provided our son,” says Sheri Mullen. “The exposure, strategic guidance and practical learning experiences have further fueled his passion in the financial markets and accelerated his ready-to-work capability. We wanted to pay this forward and support the program’s advancement for other CofC students for years to come.”
Since its inception, the Investment Program has garnered many accomplishments, including:
- Nearly 100 percent placement among participants in high-level jobs or graduate programs upon graduation
- A well-developed networking web that consistently generates internships and jobs
- Being one of the few (if not the only) program in the country that allows students to manage a structure of three funds: a public asset fund of $200,000+, a private equity fund of approximately $100,000 and a quant fund of $50,000
- An ever-deepening connection to the sources of high-quality entry-level job placement cultivated in part through firm days throughout the year
- A hallmark event, the CofC Strategic Investment Symposium, hosted each spring to welcome renowned professionals who inform, educate and interact with students and local professionals
The program was originally established and seed-funded by CofC parents Steve and Maureen Kerrigan with a charge of providing career-oriented application of knowledge learned in the classroom through real-life asset valuation, portfolio management and team collaboration. It has achieved that goal and much more.
“For the past seven years, we have made significant strides in developing an elite program with a singular focus on getting our students access to the best jobs the financial industry has to offer,” says Mark Pyles, Investment Program director. “In one of the most competitive industries in the world, I believe our students, when provided with the tools and encouragement to reach their potential, are as good as any. The Investment Program provides that opportunity.”