The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

From Undergraduate to Mentor: Justin Nelson’s Journey with Tufts University  


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Today, Justin Nelson is a successful banker, serving as a managing director and head of the asset management and financial principals coverage team for J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Connecticut, where he oversees more than $15 billion in assets. But, once upon a time, he was a senior at Tufts University, completing a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and economics and contemplating what his future would hold. Today, he’s determined to give back to current undergraduates at his alma mater, serving as a student mentor and as the founder and director of the private bank’s undergraduate recruiting team 

When Justin Nelson reflects on his time at Tufts, he says, “I’m an alum. I met my wife there too, so it’s very special to me.” He especially appreciates how his undergrad years gave him the opportunity to spread his wings and figure out what direction he wanted his life to take.  

“I was originally premed,” Nelson shares. “It took me a while to figure out that I don’t like blood and I didn’t want to do that.” Luckily, he figured out he was drawn to finance. But there was a catch.  

“Tufts at the time was not a finance school. It’s a liberal arts college. If you were an alum back when I graduated in ’98, 50% of the people, I feel like, went to grad school.” And those who weren’t pursuing further education? He says, “There was active hiring on campus for engineering, [but there was] nothing for finance.” So, even though he added economics to his major, he admits, “That wasn’t going to really help me figure out how to get a job.”  

Justin Nelson Takes the Next Step 

Fortunately for Nelson, “I had a bunch of friends who were going into finance, and they helped me think through the process, like how to get a job.” Eventually, he scored an internship at JPMorgan and ultimately — in addition to completing an MBA at Columbia University — he says, “I’ve been there for my whole career.” After a few years at the private bank, Nelson wanted to help students like himself who wanted to pursue a career in finance.  

He started asking key questions about changing the culture surrounding finance-focused careers on Tufts’ campus, wondering, “Who’s there to give people advice, help them make connections, get a job?  

“I didn’t have a lot of money to give, but I had plenty of time to give, so I started going on campus and recruiting.” That may not seem like a significant move, but as Justin Nelson notes, Tufts was then “not a school that a JPMorgan would typically recruit at, so I think I had to push a little harder internally to be able to do that.”  

His efforts paid off. “At some point, the school recognized the issue as well. So they did build a recruiting center,” he says. Today, thanks to Nelson and some fellow alums, there’s a finance initiative on campus. Additionally, he notes, “There are several clubs on campus that have direct recruiting opportunities for students. I like to think that I was a part of that.”  

Justin Nelson Talks Recruitment to Career Guidance 

In addition to spurring active career recruitment on campus, Nelson’s always happy to share his knowledge and guidance. Recently, he says, he moderated the Finance Career Forum for more than 100 students, talking about different finance topics and providing opportunities to network.” Moreover, he adds, “I probably talk to two or three students a week, and it’s all the way from freshmen through seniors, [from] people who are deciding, ‘What’s finance about?’ to people who are like, ‘I’m a senior, and I don’t have a job,’ or ‘Maybe now I like finance. What do I do? How do I think through that?’” 

His main goal in these conversations? He admits, “Yes, I’d love it if I recruit people, good people at JPMorgan, but also if they want jobs, if I can help them get a job elsewhere or help them think through that, or just give them some advice, I get a lot out of it because I feel like that was always something that I was missing. 

“People just need some level of help just to get on the right path to do what they want to do.” And Justin Nelson wants to provide those students with the support they need to succeed, meaning he’s likely to be a major presence on campus for years to come. 

For more, read this recent interview with Justin Nelson: 

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