Breaking in after undergrad

halamadrid's picture
Rank: Monkey | 40

Unlike most of these new guys to this place, I spent little time getting aquainted with this site and literally just came across it this morning.

Anyhow, I was wondering what the primary things are that I should concern myself with in terms of preparing myself for the Research side out of undergrad.

Currently I am entering my last year in a non-target school out in Boston (Northeastern University) and am wondering what I can do to seperate myself from the typical undergrad applying for research (or trading) positions out of undergrad. I originally thought Northeastern's co-op programs would be what provided that edge but then came to the realization that not only do ivy league/ top 20 (hell 50) students have the academic advantage but also tend to aquire internships during their undergrad years, so I now understand my internship at a consulting firm and Public Finance IB analyst internship are relatively nothing.

So my questions are:

  1. with less than two years left of a five year undergrad (May '11) I came up with some ideas to further my chances at obtaining a job in either research or trading at a firm upon graduation (bb, middle market, boutique.....)

Please rank the following:

a.) Take some of those financial modeling courses like Wallst-training or atleast the online versions (if you could rank these different programs/courses that would be great aswell)

b.) Taking some of the money from my current internship and setting up an account on E-trade or whichever platform is preferable for a beginner with a small account. I figure this will force me to following the markets/companies much more closely and get more into it. (problem I find now is I go into marketwatch/bloomberg/ etc... and see DOW up X, Unemployment down X, and Caterpillar reporting relatively low profits and figure what the hell do I care and so I have to force myself to read through it, if at all)

c.) thinking about asking a Finance professor to do research work for them when I am back in classes this fall.

d.) Joining the Investment fund on campus starting in the Fall, then hoping to become one of the analysts/Portfolio managers by the spring when I graduate.

e.) Taking the first part of the CFA exam before I graduate.

f.) should I try and search for a sector I find relatively interesting and inundate myself with books and information on the topic.

2.) Wit be more realistic for me to get a mid-office/back office/consulting job after graduation then go onto getting a Masters in Finance and then try to go for the associate level positions in Trading/Research afterwords?

3.) what is the main different between research on the equity side/ and research in fixed income, commodities, currency, etc... (I just noticed WSO only had a forum for equity research, why?)

4.) I have heard that the buy side/ investment management firms are distinct exit possiblities. Would you say it also makes it easier to get into a decent position as a Finance Professor aswell?

Now as for some general information about myself:

Major: Finance
Minor: Economics (Macro focus)
gpa: 3.5
internships: NEPC working with consultants on alternative assets side/ Currently working in Public Finance IB with Piper Jaffrays essentially as the intern to the analyst. (not sure whether this would help at all in terms of getting into a research / trading desk, but I am atleast putting in the 12 hour days including some Sundays)

(I realize I might be a bit ignorant when it comes to my understanding of the practical applications/ jobs in the financial world so please bare with me.)

Why I feel research might be a fit:

  • I enjoy searching for information
  • I have enjoyed the small amount of financial modeling and analysis I have come across.
  • I enjoy the general idea of understanding a companies balance sheets and macro environment and trying to infer future performance as such
  • I am more academically inclined, prefer to learn and teach and argue points rather than sell/ wine&dine/ etc...

Why I might not be a good fit:

  • Writing is not my favorite, though that tends to perhaps be more related to creative writing and trying to think of things to say. I figure when your writing a report on a company it is more straight to the facts and less need for hyperbole/vocabulary? (though 200 page reports still sound very daunting and gruesome as I do tend to take a while to write, and read for that matter) As I'm sure you all can tell, writing quickly is not a strong suit for me.

I appreciate any help/suggestions you all can provide. I realize I might be a bit behind the curve and may have come across as a tool, but I figure better I ask now than out of undergrad and stuck in the back-office handling clearing/etc...

Region: 
United States - Northeast

Comments (12)

Jan 28, 2010

b) and c)

interesting you're working as an intern to an analyst at Piper Jaffray... didn't know those existed... hmm... indeed... I'm already jealous.

=========================================
We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria

Jan 28, 2010

Sounds like you got the drive. Match it with some practical applications and I think you might have something. I will agree that North Eastern is certainly below Harvard, BC, BU, Bentley in the recruiting process.

If you work hard to reach out to people you will get an interview. Nailing that interview is important. I agree with the following:

  1. Open a trading account with interactive brokers or trade king (low trans costs). Read about options and then trade them. Nothing like learning through doing.
  2. Try to score a job during the school year with boutique IB firm like Harris Williams in Boston. Just get on the phone and call them.
  3. CFA is an interesting idea. Its a hard test. Material is about 1200 page text book. Don't get in over your head if your taking classes. Its about $1200 to sit for the exam. BTW cheaper signup deadline is Monday.
  4. Get a subscription to the Journal. Read the cover and and the cover of each sub section everyday.
  5. Be open to learning and making mistakes. Don't think you know anything about investing in undergrad. No one does. All profits and most losses are just the result of chance.
  6. Really learn financials. Pull a different cash flow, income statement and balance sheet and look at them every morning. Look at debt, equity. Is it down or up from last year? Why? Look at income statement. Judge performance. Work through to solve for cash flow for the investment perspective. Try to get "the big picture".
  7. Get in touch with Alum and invite them to lunch, pick up the tab.
Jan 31, 2010

Thanks for that.

I admit I am starting to think more in the way of getting a masters in Finance from LSE assuming I could get in. (Finance/Economics, Finance, or Accnt/Finance)

My practice GMAT scores have been about 740 quant and 600 reading

anyone think I got much of a shot?

Jan 31, 2010

halamadrid,

I think you are referring to your GRE scores.

The GMAT gives you one score on a scale of 0-800
The quantitative part is 0-60 (well 51 is 99%)
The verbal part is also 0-60
There is an Analytical Writing section that is 0-6

You are probably talking about the GRE which is on a scale of 0-1600 (well I guess 400-1600 because the lowest you can score in a section is 200).

Feb 4, 2010

I got an equity research job after college. I'd suggest accepting an internship after graduation, then work endlessly and tirelessly at it, and make yourself indispensable and prove you've got the work ethic it takes. very hard to get hired w/out an mba or ibanking experience.

Feb 5, 2010

I go to school in the boston area think of tufts / brandeis. I can tell you that Northeastern has damn good presence in boston for some of the buyside shops and it already sounds like you have some good experience. I would put NEU on par with BU and certainly in front of Bentley. BC is overrated and Harvard.....well its Harvard.

KICKIN ASS AND TAKING NAMES

Feb 8, 2010
halamadrid:

Unlike most of these new guys to this place, I spent little time getting aquainted with this site and literally just came across it this morning.

Anyhow, I was wondering what the primary things are that I should concern myself with in terms of preparing myself for the Research side out of undergrad.

Currently I am entering my last year in a non-target school out in Boston (Northeastern University) and am wondering what I can do to seperate myself from the typical undergrad applying for research (or trading) positions out of undergrad. I originally thought Northeastern's co-op programs would be what provided that edge but then came to the realization that not only do ivy league/ top 20 (hell 50) students have the academic advantage but also tend to aquire internships during their undergrad years, so I now understand my internship at a consulting firm and Public Finance IB analyst internship are relatively nothing.

So my questions are:

  1. with less than two years left of a five year undergrad (May '11) I came up with some ideas to further my chances at obtaining a job in either research or trading at a firm upon graduation (bb, middle market, boutique.....)

Please rank the following:

a.) Take some of those financial modeling courses like Wallst-training or atleast the online versions (if you could rank these different programs/courses that would be great aswell)

b.) Taking some of the money from my current internship and setting up an account on E-trade or whichever platform is preferable for a beginner with a small account. I figure this will force me to following the markets/companies much more closely and get more into it. (problem I find now is I go into marketwatch/bloomberg/ etc... and see DOW up X, Unemployment down X, and Caterpillar reporting relatively low profits and figure what the hell do I care and so I have to force myself to read through it, if at all)

c.) thinking about asking a Finance professor to do research work for them when I am back in classes this fall.

d.) Joining the Investment fund on campus starting in the Fall, then hoping to become one of the analysts/Portfolio managers by the spring when I graduate.

e.) Taking the first part of the CFA exam before I graduate.

f.) should I try and search for a sector I find relatively interesting and inundate myself with books and information on the topic.

2.) Wit be more realistic for me to get a mid-office/back office/consulting job after graduation then go onto getting a Masters in Finance and then try to go for the associate level positions in Trading/Research afterwords?

3.) what is the main different between research on the equity side/ and research in fixed income, commodities, currency, etc... (I just noticed WSO only had a forum for equity research, why?)

4.) I have heard that the buy side/ investment management firms are distinct exit possiblities. Would you say it also makes it easier to get into a decent position as a Finance Professor aswell?

Now as for some general information about myself:

Major: Finance
Minor: Economics (Macro focus)
gpa: 3.5
internships: NEPC working with consultants on alternative assets side/ Currently working in Public Finance IB with Piper Jaffrays essentially as the intern to the analyst. (not sure whether this would help at all in terms of getting into a research / trading desk, but I am atleast putting in the 12 hour days including some Sundays)

(I realize I might be a bit ignorant when it comes to my understanding of the practical applications/ jobs in the financial world so please bare with me.)

Why I feel research might be a fit:

  • I enjoy searching for information
  • I have enjoyed the small amount of financial modeling and analysis I have come across.
  • I enjoy the general idea of understanding a companies balance sheets and macro environment and trying to infer future performance as such
  • I am more academically inclined, prefer to learn and teach and argue points rather than sell/ wine&dine/ etc...

Why I might not be a good fit:

  • Writing is not my favorite, though that tends to perhaps be more related to creative writing and trying to think of things to say. I figure when your writing a report on a company it is more straight to the facts and less need for hyperbole/vocabulary? (though 200 page reports still sound very daunting and gruesome as I do tend to take a while to write, and read for that matter) As I'm sure you all can tell, writing quickly is not a strong suit for me.

I appreciate any help/suggestions you all can provide. I realize I might be a bit behind the curve and may have come across as a tool, but I figure better I ask now than out of undergrad and stuck in the back-office handling clearing/etc...

I think you're setting yourself up pretty well. NEU doesn't have the cachet that a lot of other schools in Boston have, but they still seem to have an enormous alumni presence.

I would definitely try to get a legit IB/research internship at a place in Boston. The city has a huge finance industry, and it tends to mostly consist of small boutique type places. Use this to your advantage. There was an old thread somewhere where someone posted lists of all the random IBs/advisory shops in different cities, search for the Boston one. Off the top of my head I can think of America's Growth Capital and Provident Healthcare Partners (I interviewed with both in UG), Harris Williams, Boston Corporate Finance, and lots of other small places. May also want to try to find alums in NYC and reach out to them for internships.

Doing research for a prof, and taking some more applied finance classes that let you do some modeling, would be a great start. CFA is great but it might be a lot of work to prepare for if you're still in school. I took the level 1 in june and would not have wanted to do that when I was in college, but then again you're a finance major so you may be more knowledgeable about the material.

I wouldn't resign yourself to mid/back office and MA programs yet, esp. with 2 years to go. Keep reading and figuring out what you're interested in, and try to be active in your school's investment club. Feel free to PM me if you want to talk some more.

Apr 9, 2010

northeastern has really improved over the years, it's definitely ahead of BU and Bentley for IB.

in your opinion, how does the grading at NEU work? could it be characterized as inflated or deflated? anyway, i would suggest reaching out to alumnus, you have great experience - just make sure you build a network from it

Apr 13, 2010

I think you should try to get an internship and eventually a FT job offer at one of the buyside shops. Boston is like the capital of buyside, as opposed to NYC with sellside banking.

ER in buyside does not require as much writing as in sell side. What's important is your analysis and ideas, you're not writing a 20 report to publish, you will probably write 3-5 page max at a time. I even heard that they use handwritten notes in meetings. I personally am not that great at writing, but from what I heard, I won't have to write anywhere near as much as an ER analyst would at a bank. So keep that in mind. I think your background is great, keep going and practice a lot for interviews. They want to see passion.

And really, don't worry about the Ivy kids. All that stuff is fluffy and look good on resume only. Once u pass the resume round, it's all about you and how you sell yourself. It's very difficult and selective because there're very few spots every year for ER associate (even giants like Fidelity only hire 8-10 a year, smaller shops hire 2-3), but it's worth trying because the career has amazing work life balance and has longevity. You don't get burned out after 2 years and have to spend tons on money on biz school.

A senior analyst/ fund manager once told me that buyside ER is like the hidden gem of the industry. We don't get a lot of press but the career is really amazing.

Apr 15, 2010

[quote] in your opinion, how does the grading at NEU work? could it be characterized as inflated or deflated? anyway, i would suggest reaching out to alumnus, you have great experience - just make sure you build a network from it [quote]

I would probably lean more towards deflation. Find a lot of socialist style teachers that like to make sure no student is unhappy with their terrible teaching so they give everyone a grade in the C+ to B range. I have just now realized how awful many of the professors are. I have had professors that just come to class unprepared and talk about debit card fees for a full class and I have had professors that don't explain any of the math behind say Bonds, etc... and just tell you to use a caculator (obviously they don't understand the math either).

For instance, I have a 3.5 gpa but found out I was still in the top 15% of my class. I was under the impression that a 3.7+ is usually around the top 10% mark so I find that hard to believe I am more than .2 points off yet am close to being top 10%.

Apr 16, 2010

I go to Northeastern and I definitely agree with the grade deflation remarks

Apr 16, 2010
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