Forté Foundation
Career Lab Virtual Campus

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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…

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.


Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…

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.


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.


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. 


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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…

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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…

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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…

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.


Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…

A Minor with a Major Impact

By Alina Tang

April 14, 2015

Have you ever wanted to take a class offered at your university, but it was completely unrelated to all your major’s core classes? Whether it’s Design of Steel Structures in Civil Engineering or The Performance of Healing in Anthropology, we’ve all gone through a phase when we’ve wondered what it’d be like to explore other courses and career options.

One of the coolest things about my university is the number of interdisciplinary majors and minors available for students. Plenty of my peers in Marshall have decided to supplement their major with an additional major or minor related to business; for instance, cinematic arts, communication design, and computer science. Others have decided to be Renaissance scholars and pursue areas of study quite unrelated to business—although these days, it seems business is applicable anywhere and everywhere!

As I was registering for my own classes during fall of my sophomore year, I suddenly had the urge to pick up a minor myself. While I adore Marshall, I realized that I wanted to explore classes in other schools and get an idea of what non-business students were up to.

Since my interests have always aligned with the humanities department (English, history, politics), I decided to research minors in the Dornsife School of International Relations and the Annenberg School of Communications. What I discovered was the best of both words: the Global Communications Minor.

Essentially, the Global Communication minor is a joint program consisting of courses offered by both schools. In the IR classes, a student can learn about anything from global challenges and transnational diplomacy to Asian security and European integration.

At the same time, he or she could be studying communication technology and culture or censorship and law in the Communications classes. When I heard about this amazing combination, I couldn’t wait to jump right into the program.

For me, this minor is especially appealing because it relates directly to my interest in global marketing.

Because business is becoming increasingly cross-cultural and international, it is important to have background knowledge about many different countries and cities. I have always been fascinated by how products from the U.S. are completely altered (localized) in order to become popular in another country—for instance, how McDonalds features McVeggies instead of hamburgers in India, a country in which the cow is sacred, or how Haagen-Dazs has turned into a luxurious sit-in restaurant in China and even offers mooncakes on its menu.

Someday, I hope to combine my American upbringing with my Chinese heritage and language skills, and dive into industries that I’m interested in, so I can figure out how to make their products also a hit in China.

I realize that such a feat will require a great deal of research, hard work, and commitment, but I am quite certain that the Global Communications Minor will help me do so.

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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…

What’s Your Major: Environmental and Business Economics

By Valeria Tirado

April 6, 2015

Economics? Sounds like a major headache to me; at least that’s what I first thought when I stumbled upon this major.

By my junior year I knew I wanted to do something in business, but transferring to the business school at Rutgers that late in my college career meant staying for at least an extra semester or two since some general requirements I took wouldn’t transfer over. I thought I would have no choice but to do this until I went to talk to my advisor about it.

He said, “Why transfer to another school when this school offers a business-related major?” That’s when he told me about Environmental and Business Economics. I wasn’t too interested at first but then I researched it and found that it was actually very interesting!

Economics is defined as “a social science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services and with the theory and management of economies or economic systems.” Sound boring? I can see why it would be boring to some, but I actually find it very interesting learning how economies work and why and how certain factors affect the economy.

Many companies like to hire economics majors because we have a good understanding of how certain things in a business work (ie. profit maximization, forecasting, etc.) and can help them succeed.

I chose the business economics option of my major so not only do I learn about economics, but I am also well-rounded in other areas of business like management and marketing.

Although my focus is on business economics, environmental economics is also an important aspect of my curriculum.

What’s environmental economics? It’s basically taking what you know about economics and applying it to environmental issues such as the costs and benefits of alternative environmental policies to do with air pollution and global warming. This may not seem relevant to a business but it actually is.

Businesses want to find the most efficient way to operate and that’s what economics is all about. Nowadays, being environmentally conscious is part of being efficient. Some companies don’t know how to do that and that’s where environmental economists can help out.

I think economics, business, and the environment all relate to each other very well and that’s part of the reason I chose this major. They’re not all treated as separate things but instead they’re treated as all part of the same system.

Plus, it’s great that just this one major teaches me so much and makes me well-rounded in the area of business. I think Rutgers is only one of a few schools to offer this major at the moment—and I don’t know why. I feel like a lot of people would be interested in it, and it’s a unique major that would stand out to employers.

What kind of jobs can you get in this major? Well, my advisor said there are a variety of choices to choose from. They range from being a financial analyst to environmental consulting, and you can choose to work for the government or in a private sector.

According to him, it’s also a pretty desirable major since the unemployment rate for this major’s graduates (within 6 months of graduation) is only 1%.

I’m not exactly sure what kind of a job I want to have yet, but as long as I’m putting my knowledge about business economics and the environment to use then I’ll be happy!

Valeria Tirado is a junior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics and an Anthropology minor. She plans to get a Master’s from Rutgers in Food and Business Economics and attend NYU Stern for Economics after graduation. Valeria is the captain of her intramural volleyball team and can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…
 Newer Posts Older Posts