Eric Stephenson headed to Wall Street after college to put his finance degree to use, but soon realized he was looking for something more. After traveling the world, he found himself at a three-hour lunch with Lynn University’s now Social Impact Lab Director, Jerry Hildebrand. The relationship they formed that day helped Stephenson discover his purpose.
Stephenson is currently the portfolio director at the Cordes Foundation, an organization focused on social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and today he spoke to Lynn students about how they can apply their recent J-Term experiences to everyday life.
In this Q+A, Stephenson sums up his advice for students—and anyone—looking to use their passion for purpose.
Why do you feel it’s important for students to take part in programs like J-Term and the Citizenship Project?
Life is an accumulation of experiences. The more we experience, the more our insight and understanding of our world strengthen.
How is this experience related to what’s happening in the world today?
Our time together in January, and thereafter, allows us to explore and better understand some of our world’s most pressing issues like homelessness, hunger and climate change. More importantly, we explore what role we play in addressing them—now and throughout our careers.
How can students apply what they’ve learned during J-Term to their future?
Albert Einstein once said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Good words to live by as you reflect on your J-Term experience and start to think about the career path you’d like to create for yourself.
Can students apply this concept of giving back to their career?
There are three things we can give to our community: time, talent and treasure. In your careers, be mindful of how you give your time (i.e., working, volunteering), talent (i.e., what company you commit your time and energy to) and treasure (i.e., where or how you spend or invest your money).
What is one piece of advice that you can give to someone looking to merge their passion with their work?
Be kind to others, be useful and use your time wisely. And remember, you’re part of the larger world—its history and its future.
To learn more about socially conscious opportunities for students, visit the Social Impact Lab.