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Getting the Job (Done): Business Analyst

By Valeria Tirado

Recently, I got the chance to interview Marissa Solomon, a business analyst working at McKinsey. McKinsey is a worldwide management consulting firm who currently counsels about 80% of the world’s largest corporations. That’s quite impressive! They are a great company with a bright future and I’m glad Marissa took the time to answer some of our questions.

Q: How did you first come across the opportunity to intern with McKinsey?

A: I learned about McKinsey through on-campus recruiting during undergrad. Some of my greatest role models in college went to work at McKinsey both as summer interns and full-time analysts, which made me very excited to learn more about the opportunity to intern there.

Q: Did any of your fellow interns also hire on full-time? If so, do you keep in touch and support each other?

A: I believe my entire Summer Business Analyst class re-joined full-time. Almost three years later, we are still an extraordinarily tight community.

Q: Now that you’re full-time, do you feel like the internship prepared you well enough for what you do now or is it very different?

A: Yes, I definitely feel interning prepared me very well for the full-time business analyst role. McKinsey does an excellent job designing the summer internship to completely resemble the real-life, full-time experience. Summer interns are treated as full-time analysts on the team, visit the client site with the team members, and are expected to actively participate in problem solving sessions and client meetings.

Q: Has the transition from internship to full-time been difficult or have you adjusted well?

A: The transition from internship to full-time is definitely an adjustment – for reasons as simple as moving to a new city and giving away the often flexible life of an undergrad! That said, the firm matches you with buddies, mentors, and resources from day one to support you in the transition. My team on my first engagement helped me carve my path at McKinsey, supported me and helped me see many exciting opportunities.

Q: What are the key responsibilities of a business analyst?

A: Before answering what the responsibilities of a business analyst are, it may be helpful to begin with describing what management consulting is. It may seem obvious, but many people do not understand what we do day-to-day. I would describe consulting as the science and art of working with organizations to solve their most complex problems and opportunities.

This translates to responsibilities in many ways, and I would say there are three primary things: (1) you have the responsibility to your client to be a problem solver, thought partner, and trusted advisor, (2) you have the responsibility for your specific part of the larger project and understand how it contributes to the overall, and (3) you have the responsibility to push the team’s thinking, disagree when necessary, and ensure the team is on track to delivering impact.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best skills a person in your field can have?

A: The great thing about working at McKinsey is the diverse backgrounds you will come across. There are people across industries, with different professional degrees, from different geographies, but amidst all the diversity, there are two main qualities management consultants should have. First, they should have strong problem solving skills – both conceptual and analytical. Second, they should be able to work well in teams – both client and McKinsey teams.

Q: Can you walk me through a typical day at work?

A: The exciting thing about McKinsey is that there is no “typical” day of work. My day may look very different depending on the client I am serving, the industry or geography we are in, and my team. On a typical engagement, I go to the client site Monday through Thursday. While there, my days will consist of pushing forward my discrete piece of work on the study, meeting with clients, and problem solving with the team. We have numerous team brainstorms during the day to share updates on our work, break apart tough problems, and ensure impact is being delivered.

At the end of the day, we often go to dinner together, especially on travel studies. The great thing about consulting is the immense amount of flexibility. At the beginning of each new engagement, the team will set “norms” for how we want our days to look – for example, some people like to go to the gym in the evenings and log back on to finish work later, which is completely accepted!

Q: Do you work directly with your clients? How do you create a relationship with your clients?

A: Yes, all members of the team work directly with our clients. That is what I consider the most fulfilling part of the job. It’s very cool that as a 20-something business analyst, you have the opportunity to build and maintain strong relationships with seasoned experts across industries and companies. Building relationships often starts with the business analyst owning a specific piece of work – knowing the details and sharing information that the client might not otherwise know.

Q: Do you find yourself more often working alone or with a team? Which do you prefer?

A: I am almost always working with a team. That’s what management consulting is all about. I definitely prefer that, as it makes the day more fun and enables the team to arrive at a better solution and have greater impact. If you do have something you need to push on, it is always appropriate to leave the room or put in headphones. I do that quite a bit, too.

Q: What is your favorite part about working with McKinsey?

A: The people. Hands down. I have never met a group of more inspiring people. I learn just as much from the people I have met here as from the work itself. I am so grateful for the numerous communities within McKinsey– whether it’s a women’s network, industry practice, or my business analyst class.

Q: What advice would you give somebody aspiring to become a business analyst?

A: I would encourage anyone who is excited about solving really tough problems and helping clients capture new opportunities to consider a career in management consulting.

In terms of tactical advice, I would recommend you talk to any friends or contacts in management consulting to really learn what the job is about. There really is no typical day, so it’s helpful to learn about the different engagements people do. I also would encourage you to try to get a flavor of the consulting experience in undergrad. You can sign up for classes that primarily focus on group projects to get the team experience, you can join a consulting club, or you can find organizations that help clients or others tackle big problems.



It was a great opportunity being able to learn more about McKinsey and what a business analyst does. McKinsey sounds like a great company to work for with great people. Marissa mentioned that her favorite part is the people and how she learns from her colleagues as much as she learns from the work itself; I think that’s something we should all look for in a job. As someone once said, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” Surround yourself with people you can learn from and you’re bound to be successful.

Once again, a big thanks to Marissa and McKinsey for lending us their time!

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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From Zero to Pitch: Creating an Investment Recommendation

By Siyu Wu

December 9, 2015

Up to now, Girl Talk has given you a glimpse into the world of finance and also offered a range of resources for learning more. But perhaps the best way to truly understand finance, is to do finance.

This series will take you through the different phases of creating an investment recommendation so that you may pitch your own stock, either for personal investing or for an interview.

The first step? An introduction to the stock market! (Note: All key financial terms are italicized.)

What are Stocks?

Stocks (which may also be referred to as equities), essentially, are shares of the company that you may buy to become a shareholder of the company. Companies being traded in the stock market are assigned a ticker, which is a one to four letter symbol (e.g. Nike is NKE). Stocks may be classified and categorized in several ways.

First, is the distinction between common, preferred, and treasury, which are three different types of stocks.

  • Common stocks, as the name suggests, are the most commonly issued publicly traded stocks by companies. Common shareholders are on the bottom of the ownership structure; in the case that a company liquidates, they have right to assets after bondholders and preferred shareholders.
  • Preferred stocks are one step above common stock in that their dividends pay out before dividends for common stock are paid out.
  • Treasury stocks are the shares held by the own company that were bought back or never issued to the public.

Stocks may also be divided into the three categories of growth, value, and income stocks.

  • Growth stocks are companies who have great growth potential, perhaps because of its unique product or position in the market. These stocks are difficult to identify, don’t pay dividends, and generally are riskier. Many technology stocks are growth stocks.
  • Value stocks are stocks that tend to trade at a price lower than its fundamentals, hence being undervalued. These stocks often have high dividend payouts and low price-to-earnings ratio.
  • Income stocks are stocks that are known for regularly paying out dividends and typically have lower volatility. Many mom and pop investors looking for return over a long period of time will invest in income stocks.

Another way to classify stocks is as cyclical, defensive, or blue-chip stocks.

  • Cyclical stocks are stocks whose prices follow the business cycle and overall economy. These companies often relate to discretionary goods, because consumers buy more of these goods when the economy is improving.
  • Defensive stocks are also known as non-cyclical stocks. These companies’ performance are not correlated with economic conditions, so they have less losses during economic downturns. Utilities companies are one type of defensive stock, as they are a necessity for consumers regardless of the economy.
  • Blue-chip stocks are typically companies that are well-established and financially sound. These stocks typically do well despite economic downturns, because they are known for selling high-quality goods and have long histories of profits. Blue chip stocks are typically considered a less volatile investment option.

What is the Stock Market?

With an understanding of stocks, we can better understand the stock market, which is the market where stocks are available publicly for selling and trading. The stock market is interconnected globally, with the global market capitalization currently at around $294 trillion! To make a distinction, the stock market consists of every stock exchange, which is where stocks are actually traded.

There are many stock exchanges, both in the US and around the world. In the US, two major stock exchanges are the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ). Stocks on the NYSE have one to three letter ticker symbols and stocks on NASDAQ have four letter tickers. Internationally, some major exchanges include Hang Seng in Hong Kong, Nikkei in Japan, and the London Stock Exchange. Do note that some stocks don’t trade on the stock exchange, but rather traded “over-the-counter”. These stocks are typically too small to meet requirements for being listed on an exchange.

Within the stock market, stock indices serve as grouping of stocks that measure past performance and trends; these help show market trends. There are several notable indices used for this purpose. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) consists of thirty major companies, including Disney and General Electric, traded on either the NYSE or NASDAQ. This is a narrow representation of the overall market, but is widely quoted by in the press. The Standard and Poors (S&P 500) index chooses 500 firms selected by a committee. This index intends to reflect the risk and return characteristics of large cap companies. Two other indices are Russell 2000 and Wilshire 5000.

With this basic understanding of stocks and the stock market, you can move forward to learning about valuing stocks and investing in them, which will be covered in the next parts of this series.

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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Senior Year: School and Internships

By Alina Tang

November 17, 2015

Anyone who lives in Los Angeles knows it’s hard to get around without a car. For the past three years, I’ve loved being at USC, but at times, college has felt like a restrictive bubble because of my lack of freedom. Despite the school’s proximity to downtown, it can be incredibly difficult to qualify for jobs, and take advantage of other opportunities without having a personal form of transportation.

This all changed, however, when I decided to drive my car down for senior year. Although the trek from Seattle was long and tiring, it was completely worth it. I can now take spontaneous trips to the beach, study in cafes when I get too distracted at home, and visit friends who live far from campus.

But the best part is I get to work at my dream internship during the school year.

Living so close to Hollywood, I’ve always been interested in exploring the entertainment industry. This year, I finally took advantage of my flexibility to commute and was lucky enough to land a position at Lionsgate, which is known for producing many popular film and TV series including The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, Mad Men, and Orange is the New Black.

At Lionsgate, I am a consumer marketing intern for the company’s new network, Pop. My daily responsibilities include researching competitive materials, compiling lists of social media influencers, and looking into potential partnerships and PR events.

What this basically means is I get to have a sneak peek of Pop’s newest shows, while being part of the actual marketing campaign that pushes the shows before they air. How cool is that?!

I’m also fortunate to have a boss who really cares about my professional growth. My supervisor, Chris, not only checks in on me and assigns frequent hands-on projects, but he encourages me to work very closely with senior management.

Every week, I get to shadow different departments, sit in on team meetings, and even pitch ideas to Chris’ own boss. I’ve honestly never worked at a company that values interns this much, but it’s safe to say Lionsgate has set the standard for me from now on.

Interning 25 hours a week, however, means I have an insane schedule. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I’m in the office from 9-5, which leaves my remaining two week days crammed with classes and extracurricular activities. I would be lying if I said this setup isn’t overwhelming, but I have come to love it.

I think there’s something about being busy that just makes a person more motivated, because somehow this is my best academic semester to date. Ever since I started working at Lionsgate, I always try to finish my schoolwork right when I get home, so I can make enough time to still work out, sleep early, and hang out with friends regularly.

Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity, or perhaps it’s the fact that I simply don’t have the option of procrastinating anymore, but I absolutely love my new lifestyle. I’m very proud I’ve been able to find a great balance between school and work this semester, and I highly recommend it to other college students.

You honestly never know what you are capable of accomplishing until you go for it, so take a leap of faith.  Good luck!

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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What is Financial Services: Firms Within the Finance Industry

By Siyu Wu

November 11, 2015

The first part of the series introducing the Financial Services industry gave a broad overview of the of how the financial services are commonly divided: buy-side versus sell-side firms, deals versus public markets firms, and bulge bracket versus middle market versus boutique firms. That, however, was only introducing the industry in broad strokes. This article will go into a bit more detail, introducing specifically several types of firms within the finance industry.

Investment Banks

When one thinks of Wall Street, they are often thinking of the investment bank. Investment banks performs a variety of complex and large financial transactions, and typically act as an intermediary in such transactions. These services range from facilitating mergers and acquisitions, providing financial advising for institutional clients, and serving as the intermediary between securities issuer and public investors.

Some of the big names in investment banking include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan & Chase.

Commercial Banks

Commercial banks are the banks where you deposit your paycheck or take out a loan for a car. The traditional commercial bank offers services including accepting deposits for savings and checking accounts, providing personal and business loans, offers mortgages and basic investment products such as Certificates of Deposit. Many investment banks also have commercial bank divisions: for example, Chase Bank is part of JPMorgan & Chase, and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch also provides commercial banking services.

In fact, whether housing both the investment bank and the commercial bank under the same roof as a combination bank should be legal is a hotly contested topic.

Hedge Funds

Hedge funds are an form of alternative investment geared towards sophisticated institutional and individual investors. These investors typically pool their large asset amounts to invest in a very wide range of securities. Their investments range from the traditional stocks and bonds to some very risky investments which are only made possible by the lack of regulation from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Because of the high risk in hedge fund strategies and investments, hedge funds are open to only a select number of “accredited investors.” In the United States, laws only allow investors who have strong investment knowledge and a minimum net worth of over a million dollars to be involved in a hedge fund.

To give a glance into how large the hedge fund industry has become, a 2014 CNBC article reported that there are over 11,000 hedge funds worth a total of $2.6 trillion! One of the most well known hedge funds is Pershing Square Capital Management.

Mutual Funds

Like hedge funds, mutual funds are an investment strategy where investors pool their money together to purchase a portfolio of stocks, bonds, real estate, and other investments. Mutual funds are available to allow investors to create portfolios as a group that they may not be able to have individually. Investors in a mutual fund do not actually own the securities in the portfolio; rather, they own shares of the fund itself.

Mutual funds, unlike hedge funds, are open to all investor types, and are actually a great starting place for many beginner investors. This is because mutual funds typically require relatively low starting investments of $1,000 or $2,000 and offer diversification (which means a wide variety of stocks are purchased to lower the investment risk).

These funds are also managed by professional portfolio managers who try to pick the best investments, which means the investor can spend little time and energy on their portfolio. Some well-known mutual funds include Fidelity and Vanguard.

Investment banks, commercial banks, hedge funds, and mutual funds are only some of the most well known types of financial firms. There are many other firms that serve more specific services or client groups that we will not be able to touch upon here. But, knowing these four large categories will definitely help as you explore the industry!

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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Careers in Finance: Beyond Investment Banking and Sales & Trading

By Siyu Wu

November 3, 2015

In the previous article introducing entry-level career options, two generally popular positions were discussed in detail: Investment Banking and Sales & Trading. Here, we will continue into an exploration of other finance-related internship and entry-level positions available at a variety of financial services firms.

Research

One major area many students explore is research; there are a variety of research positions, such as equities research, fixed income research, and economics research. The research departments of a firm commonly provide in-depth, well-studied analyses regarding companies, industries, and markets and comment on the general outlook for such investments.

For students interested in building financial models and closely studying industries and companies, research positions can be a great fit. These departments seek students who are analytical and are strong communicators, because research analysts not only find the information, but must also communicate that information to investors and other departments.

Corporate Finance

The corporate finance department is responsible for overseeing financial activities of a company, with the primary goals of maximizing shareholder value. This is achieved through short-term and long-term financial planning that may involve examining the capital structure or funding sources of a company.

Topics that may appear in the corporate finance division include mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity issuance, and capital markets coverage. Corporate finance analysts are great communicators and also typically have strong quantitative, analytical, and problem-solving skills.

Technology

As advanced technology becomes an increasingly crucial component of financial transactions, the technology and operations role in financial firms has greatly expanded. The role technology plays ranges from basic programming to facing big data challenges; cutting-edge technology is an essential part of any successful firm.

Those working in technology take on a variety of tasks, including managing business and system operations; acting as the intermediary between software development and business teams; enhancing functional specifications, process flow, and user interface; and ensuring that software and systems sufficiently support and adapt to business needs as a company grows.

To work in this division, analysts have strong quantitative skills and strategic thinking, and commonly also have a solid grasp on technology operations. 

Audit

Though a large portion of a financial firm is focused on serving its clients, there are also many employees at the firm whose major aim is to help the firm itself grow. One of the roles these employees take is overseeing the firm’s risk management activities and focusing on internal compliance. Analysts in this division focus on reviewing the activities of the firm to ensure that all activities comply with law and regulations, and also that the company’s risk profile is not too high.

Successful employees who work in corporate audit or compliance often have a desire to learn about and observe different divisions of the bank, as they will be engaged with the operations of many departments.

One thing to note in regards to these different divisions is that the names used to categorize the financial services provided by a firm vary widely depending on the firm. Though the services themselves are similar, different companies will name them differently. So when trying to explore the divisions of a single financial firm, be aware of these differences, don’t get bogged down by the terminology, and focus on what roles each division plays within the context of the firm.

There are even more potential career opportunities that have yet to be discussed. It is important, when searching for the best fit, to really look through the divisions of a financial services firm and to examine which division’s’ work is both interesting and plays to your individual strengths.

As you become more familiar with the financial services industry, you will undoubtedly get an increasingly clearer idea of where you belong within the finance world!

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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Careers in Finance

By Siyu Wu

October 21, 2015

In the last article, you received a brief introduction to the financial sector. With that understanding, it is much easier to explore the career options within this industry.

Starting in Sell-Side

Though many are intrigued by the buy-side industry and hope to eventually work at a buy-side firm, most students enter a financial services career on the sell-side. There are simply more opportunities to become involved straight out of college, and working in a buy-side position allows you to develop a well-rounded, thorough understanding of the financial sector.

The Big Two

Information and networking sessions for many big banks focus on two main areas for internship and job opportunities: Investment Banking (I-Banking or IB) and Sales and Trading (S&T). Within a firm these are the two areas where there is the most recruitment, and entering classes of Analysts or Associates are typically fairly large.

Investment Banking

Investment Banking is notoriously considered a difficult career field to break into, because there are massive numbers of students interested in these positions and simply not enough openings for everyone. Individuals typically have the opportunity to enter Investment Banking at two levels: recent college graduates can apply for analyst roles, and master’s (especially MBA) degree recipients can apply for associate roles.

Getting an Investment Banking job is seen as challenging in itself, but the job also demands a lot—these positions are infamous for its seemingly outrageously long and intense work weeks! But, it’s seen as a great opportunity to gain an amazing skillset that is crucial for any student looking to have a long-term career in finance.

Investment Banking analyst positions can be broken down into two categories: industry groups and product groups. Whereas industry groups are separated by industry (i.e. healthcare, retail, energy), product groups are separated by types of services, or “products,” provided (i.e. mergers & acquisitions, capital markets, leveraged finance).

The work, obviously, differs depending on which you choose. Entry-level industry bankers typically focus on assisting senior bankers in maintaining client relationships through working on pitchbooks and creating models. On the other hand, entry-level product bankers focus on a lot of transaction work, which includes creating detailed models, and working with product bankers to focus on specific product analysis.

Sales and Trading

On the other side is Sales and Trading. Investment Bankers focus on raising money through stock or bond offerings and advising clients on financial deals such as mergers, which are often drawn out for a long period of time. Conversely, salespeople and traders work on deals at a much faster pace, often completing transactions, typically of large volumes of stocks, in a few seconds or minutes. These transactions are the base of the secondary market, where stocks are traded after the initial public offering.

The quick pace is generally representative of the work done by Sales and Trading. While Investment Banking is perceived as a marathon - incredibly long hours and the willingness to be available for client interaction 24/7, Sales and Trading has much more of a set schedule, with early starts, relatively early finishes, and typically no work on the weekends.

Like Investment Banking, trading is also divided into two main categories: agency trading and proprietary trading. It can also be divided based on what is being traded, most commonly: bonds, stocks, and currency. Agency trading is the most basic type of equity trading, where the trader makes no decisions on what and how much to buy and instead simply fulfills client orders. In propriety trading, the trader is making the decisions on what to trade based on market analysis and modeling.

Investment Banking and Sales & Trading are definitely not the only two entry-level career options in the financial services industry, but they are the most talked about options. For students who may not know much about finance, it is at least important to understand the basic breakdown of these two types of positions in any financial firm.

With this fundamental knowledge, you can now hold a conversation with a financial professional about work in their specific division!

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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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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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!”

Education

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?

Experience

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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