Year after year, recent college graduates flock to Wall Street with the hopes of scoring a prime gig that leads to a lifetime of wealth and prosperity. And this trend continues whether the financial industry is up or down. Of course during a recession, such as the economic downturn of 2008, there are fewer jobs available. But even during the upswings competition is fierce. That’s why those looking for that dream job in the financial sector should use all tools at their disposal.
That said, many people assume that anyone working in a high-powered firm or investment bank carries a degree from Harvard Business School. This certainly isn’t the case, as many working in finance have earned mere undergraduate degrees. The key, no matter what the college major, is to start on the road to a finance career early.
With that in mind, here are some tips to help those with an eye for finance land their dream gig.
It’s all about the internship
As mentioned above, finance is a competitive world, especially at the entry-level position. And while interviewers don’t expect young and inexperienced candidates to know much, they still look for basic qualifications. Those candidates looking for their first job at a firm or bank can offset this lack of experience with a solid internship at a reputable outfit (and multiple internships are always great). Internships are great ways for candidates to get to know the ins and outs of the industry while generating valuable references in the process.
Turn a day job into a business asset
While there’s no understating the importance of a solid internship, the importance of practical work experience is also highly valued. Many students work their way through school, and this does indeed build character. But those working students interested in a career in the financial industry should forgo the retail sales position and look for any type of job in finance, even if it’s filing papers or stuffing envelopes.
Learn the lingo
One thing that all titans of the financial industry have in common is that they speak the language. It is a language with a lexicon containing complex ideas steeped in numbers and theories. Of course one great way to learn this language is by being a business major. But even those who aren’t on a business track can familiarize themselves with this world by committing to reading financial news, such as the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, every day.
After all, Warren Buffett got his start by reading basic books on investing as a mere child.
Consider the CFA
Those undergraduates who won’t be attending a fancy post-graduate business school need to stand out anyway they can if they hope to secure a prime job. One way to do this is by taking the Chartered Financial Analyst Level 1 Exam. Job applicants with the CFA under their belt will likely be accorded a certain measure of respect by interviewers, as many in the financial industry respect this particular designation. Completing the CFA means passing three tests as well as having four years of eligible work experience.
Indeed there are a lot of hoops to jump through in order to earn this designation, but those without an Ivy League pedigree need to go above and beyond in order to achieve their goals.
In the end…
Those with a keen interest in a career in the financial industry will find there are actually many ways to attain their dream. In fact, many interviewers don’t even require an undergraduate to be a business major in order to hire them for an entry-level position at a firm. What is required, though, is a dedication to the world of finance on the part of the candidate that is obvious to the interviewer.
Amy Johnson is a professional blogger that writes for Diamond Consultants, one of the nation’s leading financial advisor recruiters.Subscribe to our newsletter