Olin alum pivots from finance to food

  • February 25, 2019
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 4 minute read

As part of our ongoing partnership with MondayKarma.com, we highlight the career path insights from another Olin alumnus, Aaron Hutcherson. MondayKarma publishes in-depth interviews with WashU alumni to learn about and share advice as they forged their career path after graduation. Olin Blog publishes the tl;dr version and links to the full story.

Aaron Hutcherson, BS ’09, MSF ’09, initially leveraged his talent in math as an engineering student and a corporate finance and wealth management professional with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Soon, however, he followed his passion as a cook, expanding a personal blog The Hungry Hutch into a career of its own.

As a child raised in Chicago, Hutcherson aspired to a number of career paths before settling on engineering as his undergraduate choice. His parents still live in his childhood home. Dad was a Cook County Hospital administrator. His mom stayed at home until he was in middle school, when she started working at school as a substitute teacher and, later, a teacher’s aide.

Today, Hutcherson is editor and social media manager for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and the food writer and recipe developer for TheHungryHutch.com. He’s also been a loyal benefactor to his alma mater.

CORE CURRICULUM: Addressed in every interview

ON CHOOSING WASHU OLIN BUSINESS SCHOOL: “One of my criteria for choosing a college was diversity. I wanted at least 5 percent of the student population to be black. I also wanted a school with a strong academic program. I was an Ervin Scholar, so I got a scholarship and reaped the benefits from being a part of that program.”

ON FINDING THE RIGHT JOB: “I enjoyed the (internship) experience and I got an offer from Merrill Lynch following the internship. The offer from Merrill Lynch was in the fall of 2008, just before the market crashed. I think it was announced that they were getting bought by Bank of America the same week I was supposed to accept the role. I talked to the HR recruiter and asked if I still had an offer. She said yes, so I accepted it. For the most part, I tried not to think about it for the rest of the year, because I was set with what I would be doing after graduation.”

ON PREPARING FOR A CAREER: “I wish I knew that there aren’t any rules for what you’re supposed to do with your life after WashU. At WashU, everyone around you is applying to business school, getting internships and finding jobs with big companies. Knowing that there are more opportunities than just at these big Fortune 500 companies available to you is powerful. Also, the rest of your life is a long time, so as much as you can, try to find something you enjoy doing day in and day out.”

ELECTIVES: Freestyle responses from each interviewee

NEGOTIATING THE OFFER: “If you’ve done your research and know what you should be getting paid, even if the offer is within a reasonable range, you should always ask for more. State the reasons why you think you deserve it and reiterate that you want to work for the company. Ask if there’s any room in the budget to increase your salary, or you can ask for alternatives like stock options or more paid time off. There’s always room to ask. If a company gets mad at you for asking, then I think that’s an indication that maybe that isn’t the place you should be working.”

ON PIVOTING FROM FINANCE TO FOOD: “It was one of those things that sort of happened slowly over time. In the finance world, the big thing a lot of people do is get their chartered financial analyst (credential). My boss and other more senior team members encouraged me to do it, and I had zero interest. When I looked around I never really wanted my boss’s job or the job of anyone else on my teams. I could have done them, I just knew I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my career. That’s when I knew it was time to go.”

ON ACTIVITIES WHILE IN SCHOOL: “Any group project that happens in class is an opportunity to share your thoughts and learn to speak up. It’s definitely one of those skills you can develop over time. For me, it was just one of those things that happened through experiences like finding myself in those group situations time and time again. If you find yourself not speaking up, force yourself to and make sure you always ask a question or provide at least one piece of input.”

Pictured above: Aaron Hutcherson. Visit MondayKarma.com to learn more about Aaron’s path from finance into food media. You can also explore the career path for other WashU alumni.

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