Mentor & Mentee, Rhoden Brad Monrose '05 & Jody A. Holden '84
(Excerpted from Middlesex Annual Report 2011-2012)
“The idea was to set this unreachable goal in some field and then in the next two years just go for it,” Rhoden Monrose (’05) says, describing the characteristically adrenaline-fueled plan of action he hatched during his sophomore year at Trinity College when he realized he didn’t have the foggiest idea of what he wanted to do with his life. Even the most ambitious among us needs a little help, though, so Monrose turned to Middlesex, contacting alumni in various fields to see if he could spend a day with them to get a better idea of where his future might lie. The response was overwhelming. “I was a little taken aback at how welcoming the alumni were and how willing they were to take time and have me at their workplaces,” he says now, clearly still amazed. “It definitely changed everything.”
Among the people he emailed back in 2007 were doctors, lawyers, and Jody Holden (’84), who was in sales at Bank of America at the time. Holden is now at Bloomberg Tradebook, but it was during a visit with her on the trading floor of Bank of America that Monrose found his calling. “I loved the energy, the people there. It wasn’t like a typical 9-5 job, which I wanted to avoid. I wanted to do something challenging and fast-paced that grabbed my attention.” He had discovered his niche, and in Holden he’d found a lot more as well.
A longtime informal advisor to young alumni who now chairs the Career Advancement Committee for the Middlesex Alumni Association, Holden saw something unusual in Monrose, too. “It was interesting because he was young,” she says, looking at him across the living room of her Manhattan apartment. “Usually I get calls from someone who’s about to graduate, or looking for that in-between junior and senior year job, or from someone who’s been out for a few years and taken whatever finance job they could get and now wants to change.” Fortunately, she knew from lucky experience exactly how to approach a smart, eager young person: “One thing I always say Middlesex did for me was to treat us all like equals,” she says.
And so she followed suit. “If you have questions I’ll answer them,” she remembers telling Monrose. “If you want to know what my career’s been like I’ll tell you. If you want to know the pitfalls you’re going to run into and what I think you shouldn’t do even if it’s just my opinion, I’ll tell you that as well.” For a budding financial whiz who had no other role models, Monrose recalls, the straight talk was “invaluable. Everything I did I was learning for the first time and I was doing it all by myself. I think that was the deciding factor, that I was able to get that kind of advice to steer me in the right direction to where I am now.”
Over the course of the next few years, he kept coming to Holden with questions and thoughts as his interest in finance developed. Along the way to his current position as a trader at Citigroup, he taught Holden a thing or two as well--about finance but also about mentoring. “Over time with him continuing to contact me and ask questions he made me think,” she says. “I had to respond!” Then, turning in his direction, she adds: “And I’m sure I’m looking at [other alumni who come to me] with their goals and internships with a little bit of you in the back of my mind. So I think it helped the way I look at all of these conversations.”
Needless to say, she’s talking to a deeply appreciative audience. So appreciative, in fact, that Monrose has joined her on the Career Advancement Committee. “If I could do for someone else what she was able to do for me,” he says, getting serious for a moment, “that’s definitely one of my goals. I feel extremely lucky and like I owe it to karma.” Then, in a tone that implies he’s kidding--but not entirely--he quips: “She taught me everything!” and their comfortable laughter fills the room.