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What is Financial Services?

By Siyu Wu

October 8, 2015

The financial services sector can appear as a complex puzzle of many moving parts, which may be incredibly intimidating when first exploring your interest in the industry. When broken down, it becomes quite easy to understand the different components.

Having an understanding of the individual components is essential in order to further explore this exciting and challenging industry! The first article of this series will aim to give that introduction to the financial sector such that you can take the first step to a career in finance.

To begin, Investopedia defines the financial sector as: “Firms that provide financial services to commercial and retail customers… [including] banks, investment funds, insurance companies, and real estate.” You most likely are already familiar with commercial banks—these are the banks where you hold your savings account or apply for a credit card.

This article will focus on the firms that serve the other type of customers: corporate clients.

Buy-side vs Sell-side

Commonly, the financial sector is divided into two distinct divisions: buy-side and sell-side. Under this division, sell-side firms provide services such as investment banking, sell-side research, and trading at banks.

Buy-side firms provide services including private equity, hedge funds, buy-side research, venture capital, and asset management.

Deals vs Public Markets

Mergers and Inquisitions provides another way to examine the financial sector, by separating between firms that work on deals versus those that work in public markets. Under this division, “deals” firms include investment banks, private equity firms, and venture capital firms. “Public markets” include hedge funds, buy-side and sell-side research, proprietary trading, and asset management. 

Bulge Bracket vs Middle Market vs Boutique

Yet another way to categorize financial firms, banks in particular, is by looking at the banks’ services provided, geographic reach, and types of deals.

Under this division, bulge bracket banks are the biggest banks in the industry, such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan. These banks are considered the biggest not only because they have many employees, but also because they work on deals over $1 billion, commonly have a global presence, and provide a wide selection of financial services.

One step down the ladder are middle market firms, which still offer the same range of services found at bulge bracket banks. However, these firms on smaller deals, typically ranging from tens to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Middle market firms are also smaller in that they typically have a significant domestic presence but smaller international presence.

The third type, boutique firms, are typically seen as the smallest banks. Boutique firms often focus solely on mergers and acquisitions advising, but the size of deal and geographic reach actually varies quite a bit.

On one hand, many regional boutique firms work on deals under $100 million or even under $50 million and are limited to one geographic region. On the other hand, “elite” boutique firms will have $1 billion deals on par with bulge bracket firms and may have an international presence!

With these explanations, perhaps you can begin to gain an understanding of how firms are generally categorized within the financial world.

Of course, we have only scratched at the surface of this complex industry, and much more detail is needed to explain the functions and services provided by different types of financial firms. What you should take away at this point, however, is that going into finance doesn’t just become a banker at a name brand bank. Rather, there is a type of bank and type of work that fits every interest and every skillset!

Siyu Wu is from Colorado and is currently a sophomore at Princeton University, pursuing a degree in Economics and certificates in Finance and East Asian Studies. She hopes to synthesize her interest in China and East Asia with her passion for finance to eventually work in a career related to international finance and Asian capital markets.

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Balancing Classes and Clubs

By Grace Chow

October 7, 2015

College students fall into routine: get up early, attend classes for the greater part of the day, sneak in a meal or two, complete homework until the wee hours past midnight, perhaps sleep for three hours if you are lucky; rinse, wash, repeat.

All too often, undergrads plummet into a monotonous rhythm of daily activities where work takes center stage and recreation is forgotten.

However, it is important to relax, to take time off to find both mental and social tranquility without losing what’s really important through extracurricular activities. 

You might wonder, at the speeds that college students seem to be moving at, how is it possible to even fit time in for extracurriculars?

Personally, I am in a range of major related clubs and sports teams. Right after 2:45 when my classes end, I go grab a snack and head straight to boxing practice. From there, I go to my business clubs and councils, networking events, or other group meetings for my classes. My day ends at 8 or 10pm when I can actually start my homework.

It is hectic, but I have found ways to make the most of my time. Those forty five minute breaks that seem too short for homework, but too long to pass up? Well, I have discovered that utilizing that time by simply finishing a problem or two of accounting or jotting down essay ideas makes a huge difference when it comes to managing your responsibilities. 

Formal meals are great for catching up with friends or even taking a break, but I have found out that I got so caught up in conversation that before I knew it, two hours will have passed.

So, take that sandwich to a quiet place and allot a few days of your weekday to just focusing on yourself. And, give yourself ample time over the weekend to catch up on work and sleep.

Time management is key when it comes to balancing your schedule. I keep up with my work by having a weekly planner were I allocate specific time slots for certain activities. With a deadline in mind, you will definitely be more efficient and get more done.

Don’t let yourself run over those blocks and stop an assignment when time is up. Gradually, you will be able to juggle your homework and fun activities outside of the classroom.

Most importantly, remember, you aren’t a superhero. You don’t have super powers that let you blaze through your days. Sometimes, you have to recognize what is too much and what you can really handle. But, once you have found that sweet balance, college just gets that much better.

Grace Chow is majoring in finance and sociology at the University of Notre Dame. After she graduates in 2018, Grace plans to go into investment banking. She dreams of starting a non profit someday.

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Writing Your First Resume

By Jordan Perras

October 6, 2015

When I applied for my first job, I was asked to submit a resume. At that point, I started panicking. This was my first job, so I couldn’t possibly have anything to include on a resume! I thought that resumes were for people who had already had jobs, but I didn’t know wrong I was.

Anyone can benefit from having a resume because it is a way to highlight your accomplishments and strengths in a concise and professional way. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your first resume, no matter how much work experience you have.

Your Contact Information

This part is easy! Here, you’ll want to include all of your contact information, so that potential employers can get in touch with you for interviews or with questions. Make sure you include your full name, address, email address and cell phone number.

Tips: Think about whether your email address and voicemail message are professional. You can’t go wrong with a mix of your first and last names for your email address. For the voicemail message, here’s an easy script: “This is (Your name) at (Your phone number). I am unavailable right now, but I will return your call within 48 hours. Thank you!”


This part should also be pretty easy! Include your education starting with the most recent. If you’re in college, list your university first and then your high school. Include where the school is located and when you graduated or expect to graduate.

Tips: Include a section for extracurricular activities, community service, awards and leadership. You’ve worked hard, so show off your achievements! Don’t forget to say what type of degree you received or expect to receive. Does your high school offer Distinguished Graduate? Are you working towards a Bachelor of Science?


Here’s where you may have to think outside of the box a little bit! Even if you’ve never had a job, you’ve had experience in other ways. Have you held a leadership position? Mowed grass around your neighborhood? Done community service?

Tips: Make sure you describe your role using strong action verbs. Think about what you want to convey and then tailor your descriptions to accomplish that. Are you trying to highlight your professionalism or communication skills?

Skills and Interests

This is a great place to share anything else about you want an employer to know about you. Do you speak another language? Are you great with PowerPoint? Include that here.

Read over your resume and think about what it says about you. Do you sound like the type of person who would add value to the organization? That’s what you’re trying to do, so change anything that doesn’t help you accomplish that.

Tips: Do NOT lie. You lose credibility if an employer finds out that you misrepresented yourself. Show off the great things you have done and don’t worry about what you haven’t! Proofread! Make sure you have used correct grammar and spelled every word correctly. Look at resumes online for formatting ideas. Play around with margins and bold or italicized font to make it eye-catching.

Jordan Perras is a third-year student at Northeastern University majoring in Math and Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and a minor in Economics.  She has a wide variety of interests that include history, art and literature and plans to pursue an MBA after college. She is especially interested in the role of social entrepreneurship in sustainable business.


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Start Working On Your Summer Internship Now

By Heather Ianuale

October 5, 2015

When you first enter college, you’re excited for all the new changes in your life.  You have hundreds of new faces to meet, exciting classes you’re actually interested in, and get to stay up as late as you want without your parents getting angry. College is a wonderful experience and nothing compares to it.

The problem, however, is that it’s easy to get lost in the glamour of starting college. The point of going to school is to gain a valuable education that can hopefully lead you to a successful career.  To get involved, many students think doing decently well in classes and joining a few clubs is enough.

Internships, especially early in your academic career, are beneficial for three main reasons.

First off, they’re basically required for you to get a job. You need experience to get experience. Internships show that you can take what you learn in a classroom and apply it into the real world. Just because you do well on an accounting exam doesn’t mean you can handle real life balance sheets. Getting A’s in bio doesn’t mean you know how to treat a patient. Pre-law may teach you terminology, but it won’t prepare you for analyzing an actual judicial case.

It’s important for future employers to see if you can transition from the classroom to the real world, and internships are the perfect time to showcase your abilities.

Second, they help you determine if what you’re majoring in is something you’d enjoy doing for the rest of your life. What you learn in a classroom can be completely different when you’re applying it in the real world.

I had a marketing internship last semester, because I thought I loved marketing and it would be my major. However, two months into the internship, I was dreading going each day and couldn’t wait until my last day. Marketing definitely wasn’t for me.

This summer, I interned as an auditor for an amusement park, and I fell in love with accounting. I found a discipline I could be passionate about and continue with for the rest of my life. I could have gone three years into my marketing degree without knowing how much I disliked it, and then it would have been too late to change my major.

Interning early gives you a window of opportunity to find your passion that you may not have had otherwise.

Lastly, it feels good to get off campus and do something different. It’s easy to get stuck in the bubble that is your campus and never leave. It’s much more fulfilling to enter the real world and community around you. There’s a world outside of college, so explore it while you can.

I recommend interning as early as possible to everyone I know. What’s the worst that can happen? You network, build your resume, find a passion, and can even have fun. Try it. 

Heather Ianuale is a sophomore at Muhlenberg College double majoring in accounting and finance. She dreams of becoming an entertainment accounting and plans to achieve this goal by interning at as many different places as possible while in school.

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Mo’ Papers, Mo’ Problems

By Valeria Tirado

October 1, 2015

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I consider myself to be a pretty decent writer. Shocking, right?

It’s still pretty early in the semester but I bet some of you are already drowning in a sea of homework, and I can almost guarantee most of that work is writing papers. Well, luckily I’m here to help. I’m going to give you some tips on something that actually matters in your life: writing for college classes.

First things first, format matters. You’re gonna become familiar with a bunch of different formats, namely MLA and APA, throughout your college career and it’s important that you know them well. There are hundreds of online resources for writing in whatever format your professor prefers.

Although some people find sticking to these formats difficult, so long as you keep these resources close at hand, you can always be sure you’re at least close to the mark. Some teachers may be strict about sticking to the script, but more often than not so long as you demonstrate a knowledge of the formats and write a good paper on top of that, they’ll allow you a little wiggle room.

Another important aspect of college writing is one of the ones that can be the most aggravating to adhere to. I’m talking about citations. Citing your work is the most important thing you can do for any paper that involves even a shred of research.

In the interest of keeping this readably short, I’ll highlight the two most important things to remember about citations:

One, Wikipedia is not a reliable source, and even their own citations can be unreliable.

Two, citations should be stringently researched before use. Even if two citations say the same thing, if one doesn’t show its work or is from an unreliable source, you should use the other.

My final piece of advice is simple: keep writing. Even if you have no idea what to write, where to begin or have a clear destination for your writing in mind, that’s fine, just keep writing.

Anything you write can be fixed in the editing stage no matter how bad it ends up being. Brainstorming and rough drafts are your friends in college writing, as they help you get your ideas out onto paper to be refined and corrected on your second go. Stagnation and procrastination are the only real roadblocks to writing anything, but college papers most of all.

You can further your abilities by practicing, reading the works of others in order to improve your own, and by attending tutorship programs provided by most colleges. If none of those appeal to you there are plenty of online writing communities that would happily and anonymously critique your writing abilities. Happy writing!

Valeria Tirado is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics. After graduation, she is interested in working with a non-profit organization like the World Wildlife Fund and eventually wants to go to grad school for Economics. Among the schools she is considering are NYU and Vanderbilt. Valeria can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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Win a Leadership Position in College

By Alina Tang

September 10, 2015

In college, there are a variety of different leadership roles available on campus, whether it’s student government positions or e-board positions in clubs.

Whatever leadership position you hope to land, here are some tips on how to get there and do a good job:

Demonstrate passion for the organization.

It’s easy to tell who genuinely loves a student organization based on how much effort and time they put into it. Even when you are a general member, make sure you show that you are invested in the organization’s cause by attending meetings regularly, signing up for different events, volunteering to help e-boarders, reaching out to other members, and voicing your enthusiasm for the organization.

Make and maintain strong relationships.

The people you connect with in your organization are important. They are the ones who will potentially support you when you do become a leader.

One of my mentors told me it’s much easier to ask for help from a friend than a stranger. This advice is so true and will become very relevant when you realize you can’t do everything alone.

Communicate your goals.

Even if you are not running a formal campaign, it is important to be clear with your vision. People like to put their faith in leaders who know exactly what they want to achieve.

I always make sure that when I explain my goals for a leadership position, that they are simple, realistic, and easy to understand.

Follow through on your promises.

All of your goals and ideas mean nothing if you can’t deliver them. Make sure you focus on one goal at a time or organize the goals in a way that allows you to see them through from start to finish without distractions.

Evaluate progress and seek feedback.

This is perhaps the most important step of becoming an effective leader. You must be able to take a step back and examine everything you’ve done with a critical eye.

It helps to involve others in the process and ask them for suggestions on improvement. Not only does this provide more insight, but it demonstrates to people that they matter.

The common theme in all of these steps is to stay invested throughout the process. You have to truly love what you’re doing and believe in the efforts you are making to improve your organization and help it grow. Only that way, will you inspire others to do the same.

Alina Tang will graduate from USC in 2016. She is majoring in business administration and plans to work in the Management Development Program at Mondelez International and gain more experience in global marketing.

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Turn to Service for the Summer

By Grace Chow

September 9, 2015

Imagine it’s January and it seems as if all your friends have already started applying for summer internships. All around you names of prestigious companies and renowned institutions are being rattled out.

Now it’s April and you are still unsure of your plans. Do you get a job, lounge around at home, or join the bandwagon?

What many students fail to realize is that experience can be acquired from other means. For me, I turned to service for the summer and it was as fulfilling and rewarding of an experience as any paid internship or job. For the past few months, I volunteered at Loaves and Fishes and was brought on as an intern helping the impoverished and homeless community in the Sacramento area.

While on the job, I was mentored and given the chance to work in all the divisions of the nonprofit organization. I handled and logged data, inventoried, advertised, but notably, I honed my soft skills through interactions with the guests who frequented Friendship Park, the division where I was mostly stationed.

Every day, I spoke with eight hundred to one thousand people and in the process, I saw improvement in my customer service abilities. I acquired an ease with which I was able to strike up a conversation with new people. I was learning, I was growing, but in a plethora of ways. 

In the business field, it is imperative to know how to converse with others on the job and how to convey your ideas in a concise and eloquent manner. Working at Loaves and Fishes was no different: the park was the career fair, the guests the recruiters, and the floor was mine for the taking, to mold and feel as the practice rink before recruiting season. I am ready. 

So, take that summer service opportunity because it may not be the impressive internship that every college student hopes for, but you will learn so much more about yourself and others in the process.

When I left Loaves and Fishes, I left with new stories, bonds, viewpoints, knowledge, friendships, but most importantly, I left as a new me—a version of myself that was more competent, confident, and conditioned. 

Grace Chow is majoring in finance and sociology at the University of Notre Dame. After she graduates in 2018, Grace plans to go into investment banking. She dreams of starting a non profit someday. Grace will graduate in 2018.

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10 Tips For College Freshmen

By Suchi Sundaram

September 9, 2015

My fourth year at UT Austin has officially begun. I cannot believe four years have passed by (but they have according to my gracious social media reminders). Today, when I see the freshmen walking around, I feel nostalgic, reminiscing about my freshman year self.

I feel nostalgic remembering my mental state, always wondering the answers to questions I had and the people to ask to answer these questions. As I look back today armed with four years of wisdom, I have found many answers to the questions I had and wished to share these ten tips with the incoming class of 2019.

1. Focus on grades. I know it is cliché, but your grades are highly important for your GPA. Your lower-division classes will be slightly easier than your upper-division classes, and you will have the time to focus freshman year. Take advantage of this time, and start strong.

2. Join an organization where you like the people. At a fair, it can be overwhelming to find an organization that fits you. Join an organization where you can imagine hanging out with the majority of its members. The people will make you passionate about the organization and look for future leadership positions. Sometimes the organizations you would never have thought joining would be the best fits for you.

3. Try to ask as many questions as you can. You’re a freshman. Take advantage of the stereotype, and learn as much as you can, wherever you go. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Only when you ask can you get the answer. Some of the best advice I received was through the questions I asked to professors or peers. 

4. Be friendly and always introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you. One of my good friends in college was a girl I sat next to in Microeconomics. Always introduce yourself with a smile because you never know how important that person might be to your life. At the worst, he/she might be curt. At the best, he/she might be a lifelong friend. Besides, it helps you practice and succeed for the working world. 

5. Find a mentor. I have always been inspired to succeed by learning from people I admire. My mentor freshman year was my cousin. She helped me navigate my personal and professional life, and I cannot thank her enough for making me who I am today.

Find someone or some people you admire (through university blogs or mutual friends), and ask to talk to them. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, so do not be afraid to reach out. Learning about they navigated college and pursuing their passions might provide clarity for how you can do the same.

6. Learn about other majors and career paths. I have switched my major at least 5-6 times in college because my interests have changed. When I entered college, I was interested in diplomacy. Now, I am looking into investment banking. And that is completely okay. Even if you might not be interested in a company or career path, go to the info session and get the free pizza. Having the flexibility and openness to look into other career paths will help you find the area you’re most passionate about.

7. Be healthy. Although this might sound obvious, take time to take care of yourself. Take care of your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Take advantage of the free gyms, and create a regimen for yourself. Your eighty year old self will thank you later.

8. Focus on building a network. College is great for building a network of peers, friends, and mentors. Everyday you are forced to sit in a lecture hall, and meet your friends. College is one of the few times in life, where you can hang out with your friends 24/7. Take advantage of this opportunity. These friends might very well become people helping you switch jobs or cheering at your wedding. As my father told me my first day, college friends are friends for life.

9. Take one risk every day. My mantra in college was, “I will never get this opportunity again, so I will go for it.” This credo helped me become President of an organization, go on a micro-finance brigade to Ghana, and pursue my passions. Do not be afraid of taking risks. Higher risk = higher reward. The risk can be as small as going to the gym or as big as skydiving. College is a training environment, so be encouraged to take one risk (however big or small) every day.

10. Find what makes you happy. I do not wish to make this blog into a Hallmark card, but college is truly about finding yourself. College is about taking risks, pursuing your passions, and, ultimately, finding out what makes you happy. Do not be too focused on what everyone else wants to do. Focus on what you like because you do not have the time or liberty to waste. Four years go by fast. If you learn what makes you happy now, you can avoid future potential life crises in the future.

Good luck 2019—I am sure you will do great things!

Suchi Sundaram will graduate in 2017 from The University of Texas at Austin studying the Business Honors Program, Finance, and International Relations & Global Studies. Her dream job is an Investment Banking Analyst at Bulge Bracket. She is a daredevil enthusiast and a books and news obsessed feminist.

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