Steve Saperstein, NJIT’s class of 1984, grew up in Lyndon, New Jersey, and has spent his entire life in the state. He started at NJIT as an engineering major, but after spending one year studying engineering, he realized his passion lay somewhere else. He switched his major to Business, which was called Industrial Administration at the time. In college, he did well and got his job at Prudential by going to the career fairs and various networking events. Since graduating NJIT, he has been working at Prudential for 33 years, and is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Prudential Fixed Income.
Mr. Saperstein believes that NJIT contributed greatly to his success in his career. Because of his technology-driven education, he was better prepared in the technological aspects of working at Prudential. When he started working, personal computers were recently incorporated into the offices and many people did not know how to use them. However, NJIT’s focus on technology-related courses prepared Mr. Saperstein well and he was able to complete his work more efficiently. After taking many production-related courses, he learned to look at a process, analyze how it could be more efficient, and ascertain which technologies could be applied to it. At Prudential, many of his colleagues did not possess that mindset, which is what allowed him to climb the ladder and become the COO.
At work, Mr. Saperstein maintains a philosophy of being practical and detailed. Because most of his work is hands-on and requires the input of many people, he needs to ensure that all processes are running effectively and efficiently to counter the company’s competition. When I asked Mr. Saperstein who his role model is, he replied that he does not have one specific role model. Rather, he prefers to incorporate and adopt certain characteristics of other people by observing how they operate in their day to day lives.
As a graduate, he believes he received a great education that is comparable to any of the top schools, but it is up to the student to take more upon himself/herself. He had three pieces of advice for undergraduate students: 1) be very conscious of your GPA. Companies and employers keep raising the standards as hundreds of resumes come in each year. Your GPA is your ticket into the game, and once you’re in the game, you have just as much a chance as any other competitor. 2) Outside activities are very important because they show leadership and exemplify the type of person you are. 3) You need to be aggressive in looking for opportunities such as internships and jobs. Taking your career into your own hands is vital to your success. Although his time at NJIT is now a long distant memory, Mr. Saperstein is sure that the university was critical in helping him get to the point where he is today.