Pastor, former JPMorgan employee emphasizes value of student orgs
From 2007 to 2011, Daniel Stidham soared through his finance degree. A member of many organizations, including the Terry Scholars Student Organization, the Filipino Student Association and the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Stidham, like most business majors, made sure that his network was full and strong.
In addition to networking, however, Stidham found that some of his organizations challenged him intellectually.
“I would say that IVCF helped me understand how to work with large groups who are defending ideologies that are significantly embedded in their familial ties,” Stidham said. “This isn’t foreign to working with people of varying ideas, political beliefs and solutions to issues at work.”
Stidham credited this as much of his growth during his undergraduate career.
“As a result, I learned that I really enjoyed problem solving and working with people who, and should, disagree and challenge ideas,” Stidham said.
He said he didn’t find a great amount of this in the business field, although he did intern twice.
“I worked at Pros Pricing (while in school) and ConocoPhillips and Barclays Capital for summer internships. All of these were extremely humbling experiences that reminded me that I have much to learn (I failed to get an offer from either),” Stidham said. “The challenge to be a good corporate employee, which was much harder than I expected, became a challenge that defeated me time and again.”
Still, after graduation, he found himself in a job with JPMorgan as a credit analyst. To his surprise, he succeeded and was promoted after just a year to the position of finance underwriter.
“I would say that it was that humility (of failing before) that helped me prosper in my full-time job,” Stidham said.
Stidham also praised his student organizations for helping him realize a calling away from business.
“I also found that in working at IVCF, my greatest joy was helping people with understanding their lives, their eternal ideologies of faith and ultimately the immensely loving God who revealed Himself to me in relationship with the story of Jesus.,” Stidham said. “But I also realized that I lacked the courage and money to do that full-time out of college, so it took me a few years to arrive at where I am today. “
That place Stidham is talking about is actually on campus, almost every day. In September of 2014, Stidham left his finance career to become the college ministry director at First Presbyterian Church of Houston, and now he spends his days at Starbucks and other locations in the Student Center, mentoring students in their faith.
“In my undergraduate career, I think I learned just how fool-hardy I was, but would have never admitted. I failed time and time again, but I had the benefit of grades and friends to help me ignore the real issues of my heart,” Stidham said.
“But when working with people, I could not avoid my glaring flaws and how they affected people, and it was this humbling experience, both personally and professionally that has reminded me of my deep need for help in my faith from God and in my relationship with people.”