The YU Student Guide to Getting a Job in Finance
As we at Yeshiva University begin the Spring semester, the summer draws ever closer. For those looking into a career in the financial services industry, it is important to prepare well in advance for whatever position you are looking for. A career in financial services could include a plethora of positions and opportunities. For students looking into working at an investment bank, most junior employees start out at the analyst level, with the exception of an Equity Research role, where one starts out as an associate. There are opportunities for students within Investment Banking, Equity Research, Wealth Management, among many other departments. The purpose of this article is to give students, primarily freshmen and sophomores with an interest in finance, a guide for what they should do to prepare themselves for the recruitment process.
There are several essentials that candidates must have to lock down a job after Junior year. First off is a resume. A resume is usually the first item firms look at to determine whether you have the right credentials and characteristics for the job. Ideal candidates should have a strong GPA, prior work experience, and involvement in extracurricular activities, preferably with leadership positions. For a freshman starting their first or second semester on campus, this is probably a tall order. This is where interest and ambition come in. For example, by signing up and involving yourself in the Yeshiva University Investment Club or Finance Club, you can show your contacts that you have the drive to learn more about finance. By joining these clubs, you can learn more about the industry, while also having some solid extracurricular activities to put on your resume. In addition, members who are the most committed and enthusiastic about participating in the club may receive leadership positions by the time recruitment season in Junior year comes around. This checks the leadership box that firms are constantly looking for.
Another important section of the resume is the section reserved for work experience. This will require the most effort on your part. For those without prior work experience, it is extremely difficult to land a full-time offer, let alone a summer internship. Many freshmen and sophomores are unsure of how to begin the process of searching for an internship. Some students have family friends that work in finance who they can reach out to for internships, but for those without this network the first step should be to recognize that you’re not alone and more importantly, recognize that Yeshiva University offers an amazing alumni network that has—and will continue to help—current YU students land internships and jobs. This is where the Career Center and LinkedIn comes in. Don’t wait any longer to book an appointment at the Career Center. This way you have a place to go to get advice on your resume, networking skills, and interviewing skills. The Career Center is also in touch with alumni who they can connect you with. LinkedIn is another extremely useful tool and comes in handy for the second step in your internship search. Think of LinkedIn as the Facebook for professionals, without all the memes and “fake news.” LinkedIn is your portal to get in touch with a multitude of professionals, whether Yeshiva University alumni or professionals within your industry of interest. All you have to do is create a profile, add in some detail about yourself, and invite professionals to connect with you. Once the third step is complete, think about reaching out to them either via email or through LinkedIn’s internal messaging system.
Now, although many people are willing to help students out, some just don’t have the time to answer every message request and email sent to them. If you don’t get a response, don’t take it personally, it happens to everyone. The email you are sending out is considered a cold-email; usually, you will have no prior relationship with the contact, other than possibly the shared YU connection, so it is similar to walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself. This thought makes many students uncomfortable and deters them from reaching out to their contacts. However, it is essential to think about the cold-email as a low-risk/high reward situation. Just ask yourself, “What do I have to lose?” The answer should be nothing, other than the few minutes it takes to write the email. However, the upside is tremendous. Perhaps the person responds and offers to have a phone call with you to discuss what he/she does. This can develop either into a job offer (for those who are lucky) or he/she can put you in touch with professionals in their network and your web of connections can expand from there. This seems to be an easy trade-off. After reading this article, make a LinkedIn. If you already have one, make it a habit of connecting with a certain number of professionals in your field of interest every week until you either have a job for the summer or can ask your contacts to refer you to people they know who are looking for an intern.
The networking process is perhaps the most important factor—in addition to luck—in getting an internship or job. When networking, be mindful about presenting yourself in a professional manner, either on the phone or in person. This can have a positive impression on the person you are meeting with, or a regrettably bad impression if not handled correctly. When preparing to speak to someone, whether in person or on the phone, make sure to research, research, and research some more. Read up on the industry and recent current events. Understand your contact’s role in the firm he/she works for and read about the firm’s history and its role in the financial services industry. This preparation can make it or break it for you.
To understand the importance of an internship, I recently spoke with a Yeshiva University student who is set to work as an Investment Banking Analyst at a top-tier investment bank upon graduation. He emphasized that “Not only do internships provide employers with the confidence that the student has attained valuable work experience, but also aids the student in his learning experience from the facet of narrowing down his specific interests within finance.”
By now, there are three items to prioritize to increase your chances of securing a finance job come graduation. Build your resume, start expanding your network, and obtain a summer internship in finance.
Don’t waste time. Come this weekend you should have an idea of what clubs you want to join, who you want to get in touch with, and what method you will use to achieve your early professional goals.