For those interested in getting a job in finance, having a solid idea of the career path options available to you are key. However, becoming a well-rounded candidate for a finance industry job requires more than just having the right internship experiences or knowing the right people.
Having an accumulation of knowledge from inside and outside the classroom can exponentially increase your chances of landing the ideal opportunity. During the internship and job search probability often plays a significant role. The candidate pool is incredibly polished and originate from Ivy League or other premier educational institutions. For this reason, your goal is to maximize your probability of success.
Increase Your Chances of Getting A Job in Finance
There are several factors that play into the outcome: Internships, GPA, Extracurriculars, Network, and a little bit of luck. The time you put in outside the classroom to learn about the field of your choice, or the variety of finance concepts, or current market trends can accentuate each of those factors and make your chances of landing the right job much more likely.
Everyone faces their own battles in their journey to accomplish their goals. This includes competing with the multitude of candidates vying for the same limited spots. To avoid sounding too cheesy the secret to standing out from the crowd and landing the right job is knowledge.
You don’t have to be the smartest candidate in the room, and no one expects you to be. Obviously, you should hit a certain threshold of intelligence but that’s like your GPA, it’s more of a check of the box quality. The ability to accumulate knowledge is all in your control. Add a little bit of luck to the mix and you should be very hopeful about firms taking a liking to you.
Differentiate Yourself as a Job Candidate
Don’t rely too much on class since everyone else sits through the same classes and the curricula tends to be theoretical. You need to differentiate yourself. The resources below should offer you more than enough digestible material to keep yourself occupied. If you really want to take things to the next level, instead of purely taking in all the information try producing something of your own.
Apply a piece of knowledge you learned from a book or podcast, write a review on a piece of research you read, write up a pitch on a company you studied using various analyses learned from the roadmap, or even start a blog. The most underrated skill in a workforce where automation is the future is communication and those who master the skill of writing are in a league of their own.
I spent 3 years at Yeshiva University focusing my effort and time trying to know more than my fellow students. It wasn’t for the sake of being more knowledgeable but rather from a genuine curiosity in learning more about a field that I feel is intellectually stimulating and dynamic.
The more I spoke to finance and investment professionals the more I recognized that it is a field where the more time and passion one applies to the work the higher the chances of success. Being well-rounded shows in conversations and interviews, and finance professionals appreciate speaking with students who know what they want in the long-term and have independent opinions on a variety of subjects.
Always Be Learning
If you look at yourself as a blank slate, then the path forward seems never ending. It’s important to stay organized in how you learn the material and break down larger tasks. For podcasts, perhaps listen to when you’re on the move or eating. Books could be read at all times of the day but maybe set 45 minutes-1 hour before bed to read. If you could stick to a schedule of reading, you’ll be amazed how much ground you can cover in a year, let alone two or three.
The learning process is continuous so as an undergraduate it’s important to recognize that forming early habits of learning will ensure a quality foundation going forward. This is the time to build up your human capital. Maybe learn how to balance learning while taking risks in the market to know what it’s like to have financial capital at risk.
Those who execute on what they learn will be able to absorb what they’ve learned in a much more efficient manner, especially in the field of investing which measures success not in how many books one read but rather in a time-tested record of positive performance.
Another way to absorb material is to teach it to others and then review any apparent gaps in your knowledge. This is known as the Feynman Technique (named after the famed physicist, Richard Feynman), and is a proven methodology of higher-efficiency learning. A university is a prime location to take the initiative to educate others.
Master Excel & Learn Basic Accounting Principles
Two last pieces of advice before you get started. Learn Excel early and understand accounting well enough to read through financial statements. Most professionals I have spoken to emphasize how much of an advantage it is when juniors at their firms are able to navigate a 10-K or 10-Q with ease.
When you write up an investment pitch (look online for examples) you will be forced to dig deep into financial statements to understand the business from a more sophisticated perspective.
Enjoy the roadmap below and feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn with any questions. Always happy to help.
The Finance Industry Career Roadmap
I’ve organized the roadmap below which is a list of resources sorted by medium so that you could choose what interests you. Within the books and websites sections I heavily weighted the material to value investing which is the school of thought of many successful investors of the last few generations.
One of the benefits of value investing is that it trains you to view investing in public companies through the lens of a business owner. Not only does this help with making rational investment decisions but as a student it has the double benefit of teaching someone what successful companies and investment theses look like.
Since an understanding of psychology is helpful in applying this sort of framework, I included several books on behavioral economics from both practical and philosophical standpoints. A more expansive business education can be achieved through listening to several of the podcasts I listed which cover entrepreneurship, sports and business, and general mental models.
25 Book Recommendations
In addition to our best money books, this list covers value investing, behavioral economics, investment philosophy, market history, valuation. There are many other books that could be added but I found these to be the most impactful for me.
Morning Brew – Awesome Free Daily Newsletter!
These podcasts covers entrepreneurship, all areas of finance, critical thinking, and a broadening knowledge base.
Invest Like the Best
Masters in Business
The Knowledge Project
How I Built This
The Blackstone Podcast
Exchanges at Goldman Sachs
The Curious Investor
The Rich Roll Podcast
We Study Billionaires
Robert Schiller on iTunes U
These website and blogs cover personal finance, markets, valuation, investment write-ups, economic theory
Wealth of Common Sense
Gannon on Investing
Musings on Markets by Aswath Damodoran
The Brooklyn Investor
Yet Another Value Blog
Best of luck in your pursuit of a job in finance! I wish you the best.