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Alumni Connections

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David Swidler 2005

Company: Long Island Carpet Cleaners
Title: Vice President

Why did you choose this industry/profession?

Early on at UofR, I considered that I might want to join my family's business after graduating. As I went through freshman & sophomore year, I realized that if I ever wanted to explore a career path outside of working with my family, I'd have to do it at the beginning. I could always decide to go back, but getting a job with my father as my only employer would be pretty tough. So, I decided I wanted to work in finance.

I pretty much fell into Financial Operations when I applied for front office positions but lacked the grades and the most rigorous internships to compete with top candidates. As it turned out, Financial Operations was a great fit for my skills and interests. I spent 8 great years in Financial Operations at a hedge fund, first in Trade Operations and then in Financial Accounting. My team's focus was on supporting the activities of the Trading Desk and Portfolio Management Teams. In other words, operating the business that enabled the front office to make investment decisions. There were new challenges every single day, which I loved.

So, when I decided to leave the hedge fund industry to join my family's carpet, rug and furniture cleaning business, many of the concepts I learned early in my career still applied. At Long Island Carpet Cleaners, I run the day to day operations and set the strategic path for our company. As a small business owner, I oversee all aspects of the business, including customer service, facility management, human resources, cleaning operations, marketing, sales, technology & infrastructure and pretty much everything else that comes up. It's never easy, but it's rewarding to be able to make important decisions and provide a great service to our customers. 

How did Rochester help prepare you for this?

Through my coursework, I learned skills that help me with all types of tasks. I'm able review my company's finances and speak knowledgeably to our accountants. I draw upon my economics classes to help set prices and manage costs. My political science classes taught me about game theory and other concepts that help with staffing challenges and customer issues. I benefit from important tips I learned in my freshman writing seminar when I write sales proposals.

Outside the classroom, I developed important leadership skills as a Resident Advisor. I learned how to help create an enjoyable environment for my residents and deal with the interpersonal issues that occur all the time in business. I also learned how to balance my time and prioritize my responsibilities to be as effective as possible.

Do you have any advice or insights for students who want to follow a similar path?

Make sure to diversify your experiences as much as possible. Running a business requires wearing many different hats. So, it's important not to focus too much on any one thing, but to keep an eye on the big picture. Take advantage of the wide range of courses that UofR offers and make lots of time for extracurricular activities, which are even more important than what you'll learn in the classroom.