I arrived 5 minutes before our scheduled interview time. As I waited on the plush couch and cursed the inaccurate ETA on Uber that put me 10 minutes behind schedule, I wondered what type of person Jeffery Trapp – the Rotman Commerce admissions officer – was.
Was he as interesting as he is on Facebook? …
Before I could space out anymore, Jeff emerged from his office and greeted me with a very firm, Rotman-like handshake and a deep, baritone voice.
As we sat down in his simple office, Jeff asked me why I chose Rotman Commerce over Queens and Western; he seemed genuinely interested. I cracked a horrible joke about how it felt like it was my interview now and he laughed heartily. Relaxed by this very important man’s calming aura – I launched straight into the interview.
Q: What is one of the most memorable achievements you’ve seen a student accomplish after graduating from the Rotman Program?
A: “…We have a Rotman graduate who is a fairly highly acclaimed jazz vocalist. She’s won some JUNO awards. So that’s somebody that sticks out.
Also, Kevin Mak, was originally a Rotman Commerce grad. He just liked hanging around the finance lab; got a job there. Him and Professor McCurdy were the ones that created the simulation software that they use there… Two years ago… Stanford approached him to get their lab up to speed to what we’re doing here.
I wouldn’t say that they’re more or less successful. They just stand out cause they’re a little different than going to work in a bank or an accounting firm. There’s nothing wrong with that since that’s what most of the people want to do. So I would say it’s people that are successful in reaching their objectives.”
Q: I saw on your Linkedin that you were an international recruiter for a while. So what’s the coolest thing you’ve done in a foreign country?
A: (Laughs loudly) I’ve been to Mumbai probably about 3 times now… I was there with a colleague [last time] and we just had a little bit of time in the evening and we did a bus tour. You know how they do open-air bus tours here? It was around Mumbai so it was quite different.
When we did the conversion, it think it cost about $1.5 or something and it was wonderful. It was about half an hour… but it was something that really stood out. You know, there might’ve been other tourists on the bus, but they were all Indian tourists, right? So we were the only Westerners on the bus. It was a neat experience. So those little things pop up every once in a while.
Q: Do you have a favourite band/artist?
A: “… When I was in junior high, I started listening to David Bowie. A lot. And I was saying to my wife I hope people don’t think I’m trendy now because he passed away. He’s someone that I’ve always liked.
The first album I bought in Grade 8 was Diamond Dogs. So he’s probably always been an all time favourite. Our birthdays are on the same day; along with Elvis Presley. And I’ve seen him a couple times in concert, both times in Winnipeg.”
Q: If you had the chance to go back to day one in University and have a conversation with yourself. What would you tell your former self?
A: “Get involved. Be involved. Do things. Do things that are scary. This will be 4 years where you’re allowed to make mistakes, so do things that interest you.
I remember when I used to recruit in arts and science. We had one student that was very engaged with our recruitment efforts. Always very involved. He wanted to get into medical school, which he eventually did.
‘What are you doing now, Josh?’
‘Um, I’m doing some fencing! I thought I would try some fencing.’
He was doing something different all the time. So I think that’s neat: this university, the advantage of being somewhere like this, and the resources we have. Everything can scale so easily, right? You can’t do everything, but there’s so much opportunity. I know marks are important, but if that’s all you’re going to do, that’s not going to be helpful for your job search eventually. Cause they’re going to want to see all those other things as well.”
As I wrapped up my interview with Jeff, our conversation flowed easily into a delightful chat. Not only was Jeff knowledgeable in the various aspects of the Rotman Commerce program, but he was also strikingly approachable and kind. I could sense Jeff’s love for his job by the way his eyes lit up while talking about Rotman Commerce and I know now that a great team supports our students.