July 18, 2024

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World Finance Reviews

10 Tips From Grads Who’ve Done It

Graduates from top business schools including Harvard, Stanford, and LBS share how they landed their finance jobs, with 10 key tips for future success

High salaries, prestigious companies, an international environment… There are many reasons why finance is a top career path for business school graduates.

Pursuing a finance job can mean many things. Investment banking is a highly popular route to take, offering opportunities to learn at a fast pace and develop your skills while building your career within a highly structured environment.

Alternatively, careers in investment management allow you to work with high net worth clients and test your skills as you make key buy and sell decisions. Highly competitive ‘buy side’ areas such as private equity and venture capital prove popular with graduates of the world’s most prestigious business schools.

Other ambitious students pursue careers in corporate finance, taking on in-house roles that involve managing companies’ resources and keeping a close eye on that all-important bottom line, with the prospect of becoming a CFO on the cards.

Despite recent challenges caused by inflationary pressure and economic upheaval, opportunities remain. According to Bloomberg, more than 3,000 students from 106 of the world’s top-ranked business schools entered the sector after graduating in 2023.

But, how can you give yourself the best chance of successfully landing finance jobs?

To find out, BusinessBecause spoke with MBA and Master in Finance graduates from top-ranked institutions including Columbia Business School, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, London Business School, Indian School of Business, University of Virginia Darden School of Business, BI Norwegian Business School, and Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Here are their 10 top tips for successfully landing finance jobs.

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Finance Jobs: 10 Tips On How To Land Them

1. Start your preparation early 

“The preparation, in some sense, starts before you start your program. That means in the months leading up really doing your research into not only careers in finance, but also the broad swaths of careers you have access to. In doing that you’ll be able to decide ahead of time, ‘hey, what do I want to do?’”

John Scalamandre, investment banking associate, Citi, MBA, Columbia Business School  

2. Utilize all available resources

“As soon as you get accepted, start taking advantage of the resources. Because I was paying attention to the emails the school was sending me, I found links to these [early access] programs. You had to apply to them, so I applied, got accepted, and I ventured into some potential career paths.”

Vanessa Hubbard McMichael, director, head of Corporate & Public Entity Strategy, Wells Fargo, MBA, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

3. Hone your academic potential

“The actual academic element is very important. When you’re applying for a bank it’s important to have good grades, simply put. You can only get those good grades if you do well in your classes, but also if you really understand the finance concepts and things that will ultimately be required during the job.” 

Alice Schenato, investment manager, ALP.X Group, Master in Financial Analysis, London Business School

4. Master your fundamentals 

“The most important thing is you need to get your fundamentals right. Fundamentals means you have a clear understanding of what the job you are applying to involves.

“If you have a good understanding, you will be more confident in starting a conversation with the interviewer and also navigating that conversation.”

Kaize Ying, infrastructure private equity, Macquarie Group, Master in Finance Analysis, London Business School

5. Acquire experience  

“I would strongly recommend that individuals try to get some experience in the specific work that they wish to do after the completion of b-school. This experience could be via job stints, internships, or extended learning projects.

“Nothing demonstrates potential better than relevant experience. Demonstrated experience can be a key differentiator.” 

Rohan Dwarka Mehta, assistant vice president, HSBC, MBA, Indian School of Business

6. Leverage clubs and associations

“Within the first month [at business school] you start to interact with the career management center and clubs on campus. 

“They can both help you in getting prepared for what the [recruitment] process is going to look like from a high level. They also show how you should present yourself and how you should tackle the preparation in order to be ready for your interviews.” 

John Scalamandre, investment banking associate, Citi

7. Develop your network

“Having a very good alumni network and just a broad network in general will help people pitch for you when they’re trying to figure out whether you are able to land an offer. 

“Being enthusiastic and interested no matter what the subject matter was when talking to people was very helpful.”

Lois Lee, investment banking associate, Citi, MBA, University of Virginia Darden School of Business

8. Build relationships with alumni

“I have a bunch of people reach out to me who want to talk about career paths, and I think it’s worth it to take the time to be really thoughtful and figure out ahead of time what perspective someone has that’s useful to you.

“[Think] what it is they could need that you have, so that it’s a relationship and not just taking something.”

Sarah Hinkfuss, partner, Bain Capital, MBA, Stanford Graduate School of Business

9. Prepare thoroughly for interviews 

“Try to talk with people who have been through the interview process or work for the company and can give you some advice, or at least can answer questions about the job.

“Knowing what type of interview you will have is crucial. You shouldn’t come to a case interview without any preparation, because the odds of success are very low.”

Valentina Barbosa Forero, graduate, Norges Bank Investment Management, MS Finance, BI Norwegian Business School

10. Consider is this the career for you? 

“Finance is an incredibly competitive, very rigorous, very intense career path, and that is true regardless of where you are in finance. 

“What I think that requires, then, is that you actually know you’re doing something that you’re good at, that aligns with your skill set, and that you really love.” 

Sarah Hinkfuss, partner, Bain Capital

For more info about what it’s like to work in finance, the perks and salaries you could gain, and tips on how to successfully land jobs in finance, download our BusinessBecause Careers In Finance Guide