How hard is it to get into The Nittany Lion Fund?

First off, I apologize if this is in the wrong forum or if I did anything wrong with the formatting of this question. My question is: "How hard is it to place into the Nittany Lion Fund?" I know a lot about this program, but one thing that seems kind of murky to me is just how many people get in. I have heard that acceptance is very difficult, but I've never heard anyone go into more detail.

The NLF is intriguing to me obviously because of the Wall Street Placement rate in IBD and Sales/Trading divisions and just because of the opportunity of being responsible to individual investors and their money. I am a high school senior that is constantly staying on top of financial news through articles, learning financial concepts through classes and reading books, and I have been a part of a similar investment management fund in HS, albeit on a lower scale. I am very dedicated to my future in finance and I know that getting into a program like the NLF is extremely important for my future. Any tips for getting in and succeeding within the club is also very much appreciated.

Also, if some of y'all have worked with NLF/Penn State grads in your career, could you please share your opinion of them?

 

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I can't comment on how "hard" it is to get into the NLF since I am not a PSU alum however, I have great connections to a lot of the NLF investors and get access to their 10Q's/10K's.

Something to note, since their endowment for the fund is of a nice size say $5+Mil, you're talking about 30-40 students from what I last saw. Having a top-notch GPA, learning soft-skills and reaching out to current NLF analysts/managers would dramatically increase your chances of getting in.

In regards to your comment of Wall Street Placement, BAML is a HUGE target for PSU. In the report I last saw, I would say 50-60% either got their S&T or IB internship with them and most landed FT offers from there. Some matriculate into DB, Citi, and rare but some do get into GS/MS.

Wish the best for you!

 

One important thing to note is their AUM is $11 million entirely in private investor capital (I believe from 70-80 individual accredited investors), which is extremely unique because none of this is university endowment money, and is SEC-registered with lawyers on retainer / insurance fees as well. There's a ton of accountability and responsibility in that organization that recruiters recognize and love since these students need to maintain investor's trust to manage their capital and has really grown their reputation. It's also one of those organizations that will continue to grow over time and would be a great alumni network to have access to. 

 
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I made it into the Nittany Lion Fund and can attest to the difficulty: it is extremely competitive. To get into the Nittany Lion Fund you need to be a member of their feeder org called Penn State Investment Association (PSIA). PSIA has over 400 kids in it each semester. Then you have to pay $25 to get access to the PSIA’s canvas page so you can submit assignments to be considered for the Fund. I would say about 100 out of the 400 people in PSIA actually follow through with becoming a dues-paying member.

That being said, the ~100 people who paid $25 for access are definitely serious about joining the Fund, with most being finance majors (3.5 GPA minimum) who attend most weekly meetings while studying technicals. Only about 40 people will end up being selected for a first round interview. You get recommended by networking with fund managers and proving to them through mock interviews that you are qualified. From there, only 10-12 people are offered a position in the Fund each semester.

So I’d say if you were to make an acceptance rate for getting into the Fund as a dues paying PSIA member, it’s about 10%. If you get the first round, it’s 25%. If you just sign up for PSIA, it’s more like 2.50%. Keep in mind that the people who are trying for the Fund are also very qualified (most with over a 3.7 GPA and knowledgeable on the basics of finance).

With all being said, it’s extremely difficult, as it’s an extraordinary opportunity that virtually no other college offers. Though it may sound overwhelming, it is on par with how hard it is to land a job on Wall Street (with many banks having 1-2% acceptance rates with ivy leaguers applying left and right). However, it is not impossible and if you work harder than everyone you will get in. I would totally say the work is worth it. And if you do get in, it’s something that sets you apart from any other candidate.

 

The Fund splits up interviews into four different segments: technicals, behaviorals, markets, and case study. Many in the Fund would agree that the technical questions asked to get in the Fund were harder than IB interviews. However, I wouldn’t say this is the case if you’re interviewing for a restructuring role at a boutique (they are hands down the hardest it can get and restructuring is its own different beast). Market questions are more based on your outlook of the S&P, ability to pitch stocks, commodities, and currencies, and comprehension of the Fed, interest rates, inflation, and other macroeconomic concepts. Case study is by far the hardest part of the NLF interviews. You only get the case study if you pass the first rounds. Exec will pick a stock and you will have to pitch either buy or sell on it and complete an entire pitch book pretty much. What makes it harder is you only have 2 days to do it along with you’re already demanding college schedule with classes. It’s not uncommon for kids to pull all nighters to finish the case study.

 

For PSIA / LLC/Leveraged Lion Capital, I plan on reaching out to Dr. Woolridge or a more appropriate context at PSU to share some insights / enhancements to curriculum etc that would really add value to students. Happy to have a PSU-er work with me, if interested (I mentored a PSU/LLC student and taught this person a ton of skills in the leveraged loan space including analysis of credit agreement and term loan B comps - both which aren’t taught - for example (in literally a 30 min call) and got feedback of what LLC is lacking or could be better in).

 

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