On Thursday morning, Oct. 10, college students and members and volunteers of the American Association of Retired People (AARP) gathered together in the Villanova Room to listen to Scott Frisch and Nicholas Lazzaruolo, VSB alumni, who returned to discuss their individual experiences and speak on behalf of their organizations. Both graduates earned accounting degrees from the University. Together, the speakers reflected on their college and work experience, in addition to offering advice and providing key steps in becoming a successful leader at a prestigious company or organization.

Currently, Frisch is the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of AARP, growing the “non-profit, nonpartisan organization” by 36 percent in the last four years. AARP is “dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment.” AARP also strives to improve small businesses, provide consumer protection against scamming and explore the future, rejecting the notion that this organization only benefits the sector of retired people. 

Differently, at age 32, Nicholas Lazzaruolo became a partner of Grant Thornton, an accounting firm that deals with growth and servicing international and national well-known organizations.

It was a nostalgic return for the businessmen when remembering the four years at the University and giving advice to the students at the event. Lazzaruolo and Frisch agreed that their value of education and the diversity of thought on campus helped them navigate through their experiences. The speakers addressed networking to be the most important exchange when searching for opportunities. However, they mentioned that networking starts with self-confidence in oneself and the preparation before sparking a conversation with someone important. The two spoke about the workforce of the future that needs these type of job candidates who seek opportunities and desire to prosper. 

Starting the job, early college graduates should be ready to learn and anticipate moments of inexperience because many business leaders will acknowledge “exposure and experience doesn’t come from a textbook,” followed by the understanding that one needs to “live it then learn it,” Frisch said. At the same time, one should immerse themselves in learning beyond the class lecture and textbook. To grow and sharpen skills as a college student, read, continue to ask questions, study abroad, research successful people, form organic mentorships, and fulfil different responsibilities. According to Frisch, “A work experience is a personal-life investment… and you should have a sense of the end game.”

The development of Artificial Intelligence, data analytics, robotics and other high levels of technology poses a threat to many jobs, and both business leaders discussed their view of innovation and the future workforce. Recently, AARP made a $60 million investment to investigate brain health and another $40 million investment on far-reaching technology like AI. However, Nick Lazzaruolo claims that, “technology is an additional tool… [It] is not something that will take over our jobs because you still need the human to make sense of the data.”  

At the end of the event, the moderator allowed time for listeners to stand up and ask questions. Internship opportunities for AARP were also available at the end of the session.