Finding purpose in your degree

Register for hands-on learning with the Goff Strategic Leadership Center! Applications are now open for Goff Explorers and Goff Trailblazers for Spring 2022. Applications are open now, with a priority application deadline of Nov. 7 for Goff Trailblazers and Nov. 21 for Goff Explorers.

The Goff Strategic Leadership Center at the David Eccles School of Business prides itself on giving students the tools and opportunities necessary to be successful by way of courses, case competitions, and events.

Ethan Black, a senior studying finance, started his Goff journey in the Trailblazers course during his junior year. He later co-created the Goff club, Take Lead, and is now a a TA for the fall Trailblazers course.

“While I’ve always been a finance major,” Black said, “my whole perspective and mindset on business as a whole has completely changed because of Goff. It broadens your perspective on what your degree means.”

In Goff Trailblazers, students complete a project for a real business, nonprofit, or other organization. Working with a real project client allows students to take the lead on solving their strategic challenge while receiving invaluable guidance in the classroom.

Black’s project client was Esusu, a New York fintech start-up that aims to remove the many barriers to housing for working families. They do so by leveraging data to inform the housing affordability crisis and helping lower-to middle-income families and individuals boost their credit scores. They are bridging the racial wealth gap through the power of data.

For their project, Black and his teammates were asked to research financial literacy levels among University of Utah students; effects of credit on younger populations; and the financial value of establishing credit early in one’s life. Their project cumulated in a presentation to former University of Utah President Ruth Watkins.

“In just one semester with Goff,” Black said, “I feel I’ve learned more than in two years of general business courses. It’s not theoretical, it’s practical.”

“It was cool to have a social impact as well,” Black said, “You’re helping out people. There are a lot of inequalities when it comes to credit score and opportunity, and to wake up every morning knowing you are doing something more than data entry is just pretty cool. It was intensive, but I liked the work and the culture.”

Black’s Trailblazers course was a catalyst that brought about so many new opportunities and connections. After working with Esusu in Trailblazers, Black’s connection with the company founders would soon propel him into an internship in New York.

“It came to be very organically,” Black said, “The familiarity made it very impactful -as in day one I was immediately working on stuff. I was given more responsibility because of what Goff allowed me to showcase to them.”

Black said his Trailblazers cohort grew very close and most of them still stay in touch today, a year later. Goff prides itself on building connections, and these seemingly simple connections tend to be the most important relationships in the future.

“Strategic leaders are value creators,” shares Goff managing director and Trailblazers instructor, Ruchi Watson.  “And, we really practice what we preach by ensuring that we’re creating value for our students, which means seeing this experience as more than a class – when you engage with Goff, you’ve gained a family for life.”

Goff is teaching valuable workplace skills, but most importantly, instills confidence in the students. Black touched on how, during his internship, he lived alongside the Goldman Sachs interns from schools such as Duke, Georgetown, and Harvard. Even still, he was able to compete without hesitation.

“So, what, I’m a kid from St. George, Utah, I can compete with anyone there,” Black said. “I think that confidence was the biggest thing, and a large part of that was because of Goff. I wasn’t intimidated, I actually felt like I more than belonged.”

If you want to make a real-world impact, join the Goff Trailblazers and Goff Explorers in spring 2022. Applications are open now, with a priority application deadline of Nov. 7 for Goff Trailblazers and Nov. 21 for Goff Explorers.