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First Pitch

Ben Shapiro  Follow

I compulsively check the clock. It’s a Friday in July and I have a flight to catch. I’m off to St. Louis – not your ordinary weekend-get-away for a 20-something – but it’s my birthday weekend and I am ecstatic. After all, I’ll be throwing out the first pitch before the Mets/Cardinals game at Busch Stadium less than 24 hours from now.  

I’m about ready to leave when I receive an email from Prosek Partners with the subject line, “GREAT IDEA!”

I immediately start thinking to myself, “What story must I cover now? Ha! He even put “GREAT IDEA” in the subject line, who is this amateur…. Mark Snyder! Never worked with him before. Alright, I gotta head out. Let me just reply ‘Sure!’ and I’ll figure this out when I’m back from beautiful St. Louis.”

Little did I know whom I was dealing with, and with a few calendar invite adjustments later, I was all set for this mysterious call. When the time came, I was on the phone with Jen Prosek herself where I quickly learned this was not just another pitch, but rather a chance to get to know me and share the firm’s new focus on hiring reporter talent. I was instantly intrigued, and from there ensued multiple rounds of interviews with a dozen of my future colleagues. It was during these “source meetings” where I experienced Prosek’s team-oriented culture, smart and enthusiastic employees, and knew this was the place I wanted to be. A feeling I had longed for ever since I graduated college.

And what an anxious time that was. Home for good after four years at Colgate University. Armed with a liberal arts degree in economics and ready to start the next phase of my life. I distinctly remember lying in bed thinking, “Now what? Does this mean I’m an economist? Is the Fed hiring?” Unlike my colleagues that have shared their stories before me, I was utterly lost and had no idea what I wanted to pursue for a career.

Well, a slew of entry-level applications across a variety of industries later, I ended up with an internship as part of a healthcare research unit within a brokerage firm down on Wall Street. Seemed promising, but it turned out my direct contact was only in the office twice a week, gave me very little work or direction, and thus feeling isolated, and like an outsider, I decided to pursue other options.  

Except this time, I had a plan. I knew I loved sports and I knew I loved to write, and I figured unless I hit a dramatic growth spurt at age 22, my only shot of getting into a professional locker room was through journalism. So, a few odd jobs later (including scoring late-night hockey games in the dead of winter and serving as a dodgeball instructor at a summer camp), the fall came, and I was off to NYU to earn a Master’s in journalism.

A year and a half at J school taught me that most importantly, I can definitely do this(!), but also that for recent graduates it’s not easy to get a paying job in sports reporting and that there were opportunities in financial journalism. I was fortunate to get a job at Institutional Investor in their newsletter division, and turned that into a brief, yet well-traveled, career as a financial journalist – with coverage ranging from public pension plans, activist hedge funds and ultimately foundations and endowments.

I liked being a journalist. I enjoyed building sources. I took pride in uncovering new angles. I love storytelling. However, I wouldn’t say I was passionate about it, and to work in an industry where your job security isn’t always assured and where business models are seemingly constantly in flux, you really have to love it.

Now, I have the ability to use these skills I developed as a journalist and still impact the financial media landscape while working for a company I’m proud to represent. Best of all, as opposed to journalism where you sometimes feel like you’re working on an island, at Prosek I get to work with my peers on a daily basis and develop that work-place camaraderie I’ve always strived for.     

Safe to say, Mark’s email truly was a great idea and without a doubt, the best pitch I ever received. 

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