On a Saturday morning, Joel Guzman was awake at around 8:30 a.m when he heard an email notification on his phone. A Rutgers University senior from Jersey City, he’s been pursuing the financial world with a double major in economics and finance.
As he looked over and opened the email, he saw with his own eyes – he won a $2,500 scholarship.
“As a college student who’s working to pay off his student debt and ultimately graduate debt free, this was a blessing,” he said.
The scholarship was awarded by the National Association of Black Accountants, an organization that supports those from underrepresented communities who go into finance. Guzman, who is Black, sees the need for continuing representation efforts in the finance world.
As a lifelong Jersey City resident, Guzman came to Rutgers at their Newark campus after graduating from McNair Academic High School. When he came to college, he was initially thnking about doing philosophy and liberal arts. But after joining a number of clubs, learning economics and talking to different professors, he was introduced to the business world.
“Once I realized that the world revolves around money; I have a specific interest in this and the people I’m meeting are really cool, it was just a natural progression,” he said. Seeing that economics and finance are similar and tied to each other, he decided to major in both of those.
Guzman says that you don’t have to just be into numbers and math to have a place in the finance industry; others that are interested in psychology, marketing, and engineering are in the field. As for his own personal interest in finance, building generational wealth is the most important to him, as well as managing personal finances and finance literacy.
Since joining Rutgers, he has enjoyed his time on campus, touting the the relationships he’s made and enjoying the diversity of the university. The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on his college experience, where he spent a year and a half doing virtual learning.
Guzman joined NABA during his freshman year after hearing about it from his friend, Gary. NABA provides resources such as mentorship opportunities, scholarships, and insight into the business world as they help the African American community and other underrepresented groups as well.
“On campus, we have about 10 to 12 members, and I really appreciate that and come to enjoy it,” said Guzman. “Given the fact that we have smaller numbers, we’re able to know each other much more personally. If someone has an issue and needs help with something, we’re able to communicate with each other.”
On the local level, NABA offers personal finance workshops and resume check ins, and on the regional level, they offer students and families discounts for applying to accounting exams, as well as providing people with accountants to help.
Guzman applied for the NABA scholarship online through their partnership website, writing to them about himself, how he fits NABA’s model of lifting as they climb, and bridging the gap in underrepresented employment. The scholarship money comes from a partnership with Xero.
In terms of diversifying the financial world, Guzman says that he sees that there needs to be continued efforts with representation, and making sure that they’re choosing the best applicants from different communities of color.
“You have not only the person to show face, but also to make sure that you have the best candidates from those places,” said Guzman. “So that we were in a workforce that’s driving in, and at the same time, naysayers can’t say that this person was just hired for x and y reason.”
As Guzman continues in finance, he joined UBS in an internship this summer, and received a return offer to start after he graduates next year as a GTP analyst.