Finance jobs -- how do I even begin?

Hi all,

I need help. I've wanted to go into finance and work at an ibank since high school. However, I got distracted by several things in my life (making a lot of money online, having a Japanese gf, getting addicted to weed) but now all these things have disappeared from my life leaving me just with my dream of getting an entry level position in the financial field.

My dream: Working at an ibank in Tokyo, Japan.

Where I am now: I am back at my home outside of Philadelphia. I have a valid work Visa to work in Japan for the next 1.5 years. However, I am open to working in the United States or any other country if it means I can get a job at an ibank. I can always apply or get transferred later to Tokyo when I have more experience.

I have a degree in Economics from a top 5 liberal arts school and a GPA of 3.8something. I am 24 years old and I graduated in 2008. Since then, I have mostly started several promotional companies online and wrote a book which I self published and marketed online. I have no experience working a "real" job.

My problem: How do I even go about starting? I graduated from college a couple years ago so I can't do the campus interviews and I can't get those internships reserved for college students only.

I go to the websites of the major ibanks and I mostly see only positions for college summer internships or positions for people who already have 3-5+ years of experience.

I know that the entry level job at an ibank is becoming an analyst. Can anyone tell me how I can go about applying to become an analyst despite being out of college 2 years now?

Also, on another message board, someone mentioned to me that I should look into the various certifications that the financial field requires and try taking those tests since they would help show employers that I have serious interest. I assume for most ibanking, this test is the Series 7 exam; should I study for this exam and try to pass it in order to increase my chances of getting my foot in the door?

Another person told me that because I have experience starting several companies online, I should try to get my MBA since that would help increase my chances of getting a job in the financial world. I went to the book store and saw that the average age of people at most MBA programs is around 28 or so with quite a few years of real world working experience. Would MBA programs take me seriously if I applied? Is this even a good choice right now to get an MBA or should I try to get my foot in the door at an ibank?

My ideal: If I don't go back to school, I would love to work in a foreign country (does not have to be Japan for now although it is my ultimate goal).

I am confused as to how to begin or even get noticed by these firms. Right now I am sitting in my home in Philadelphia with absolutely nothing to do. Does anyone have any advice or experience regarding my situation?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Right now I really have nothing so thanks to everyone who responds.

Region: 
Other APAC
United States - Northeast

Comments (27)

Nov 12, 2010

you cant be addicted to weed.

Nov 12, 2010
BigBucks:

you cant be addicted to weed.

True. The weed itself did not get me addicted. I was psychologically addicted to the plant. When my friends pointed out how it was destroying my life, I didn't really listen and just kept going. Now, however, I really sat down and thought about my life and realized that at the points where I wasn't smoking, I was really improving and during the points where I was smoking, I was really losing a lot.

All in all, some people may be able to handle smoking weed and performing at a high level. I, however, am not one of those people.

Nov 12, 2010

Given your situation that you have no work experience in any industry sector 2 years out of college, it's going to be a long shot getting into IBD right away let alone abroad such as Japan w/o IBD experience. You can take 2 routes.

1.) Network, network, network...I know this has been mentioned many times but it really works. Start cold calling alums, and such. Try start cold calling regional I-banks or small boutiques and see if you can land an internship or full time...even if it's working for free for a year to gain experience(depending how desperate you want to break into I-Banking).

2.) Get into a decent MBA, and apply for associate programs after graduation.

In my opinion, #1 would be better option, because even if you get your MBA you still lack prior work experience that makes you unappealing to any employer.

As to series 7...Don't bother studying for it. 1.) You need to be sponsored for the license 2.) It's really doesn't make you stand out when applying in IBD.

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Nov 12, 2010

Thank you for the reply!

kbluearmor7:

Given your situation that you have no work experience in any industry sector 2 years out of college, it's going to be a long shot getting into IBD right away let alone abroad such as Japan w/o IBD experience. You can take 2 routes.

In my opinion, #1 would be better option, because even if you get your MBA you still lack prior work experience that makes you unappealing to any employer.

I can understand my lack of "real" world work experience. However, it's not as if I have been sitting around for 2 years. I started several of my own companies. One of these companies put me as president and I had approximately 200 employees working below me before I got out of this company. Do you think this would count for "work experience" or is there any way I can spin this so that it is beneficial for my applications to ibanks (or MBA programs)?

kbluearmor7:

As to series 7...Don't bother studying for it. 1.) You need to be sponsored for the license 2.) It's really doesn't make you stand out when applying in IBD.

Thanks so much. You just saved me a few months time and a lot of money. I can now at least try to find something else to concentrate on... I am still confused as to get my foot in the door though.

Nov 12, 2010

Well sir you didn't mention that you started your own company with 200 people working for you! With entrepreneurial skills you definitely can get into a top MBA and then land into an IBD associate gig. I don't know what kind of company you started, but if it is geared toward a certain industry then you can spin off your experience to landing a IBD gig in a certain industry group.

Now since you have started your company, option 2 of going to B-School to get the MBA would be the best bet. Come out and get a job as IBD Associate, and hopefully in 2 years the job market environment will be much better.

Start studying for your GMAT.

Nov 12, 2010
kbluearmor7:

Well sir you didn't mention that you started your own company with 200 people working for you! With entrepreneurial skills you definitely can get into a top MBA and then land into an IBD associate gig. I don't know what kind of company you started, but if it is geared toward a certain industry then you can spin off your experience to landing a IBD gig in a certain industry group.

Now since you have started your company, option 2 of going to B-School to get the MBA would be the best bet. Come out and get a job as IBD Associate, and hopefully in 2 years the job market environment will be much better.

Start studying for your GMAT.

Thanks so much again for your input.

I do not know much about MBAs so I wasn't sure how they would receive the fact that I started my own companies. To answer your question, the company focused on website promotion. So, I think this is not really an industry that I could leverage for IBD, however, the admissions office at the business schools might appreciate my entrepreneurial spirit.

Now, am I correct in saying that once I finish business school and get out with my MBA, ibanks would consider me for an associate position despite the fact that I have no previous work experience in the field?

Nov 12, 2010
7notas7colores:
kbluearmor7:

Well sir you didn't mention that you started your own company with 200 people working for you! With entrepreneurial skills you definitely can get into a top MBA and then land into an IBD associate gig. I don't know what kind of company you started, but if it is geared toward a certain industry then you can spin off your experience to landing a IBD gig in a certain industry group.

Now since you have started your company, option 2 of going to B-School to get the MBA would be the best bet. Come out and get a job as IBD Associate, and hopefully in 2 years the job market environment will be much better.

Start studying for your GMAT.

Thanks so much again for your input.

I do not know much about MBAs so I wasn't sure how they would receive the fact that I started my own companies. To answer your question, the company focused on website promotion. So, I think this is not really an industry that I could leverage for IBD, however, the admissions office at the business schools might appreciate my entrepreneurial spirit.

Now, am I correct in saying that once I finish business school and get out with my MBA, ibanks would consider me for an associate position despite the fact that I have no previous work experience in the field?

also, i would speak with mba consultant to fine tune your story/essays. but i would only do it if your gmat score is extremely good, otherwise its a waste of 3-4g's.

Nov 12, 2010

get a high gmat score (>750), get an mba from top 5 schools, and get summer associate internship in a bb. use your entrepreneurial side in your essays to get the edge.

Nov 12, 2010
MrLove:

get a high gmat score (>750), get an mba from top 5 schools, and get summer associate internship in a bb. use your entrepreneurial side in your essays to get the edge.

Thanks for your response.

You (and someone else in this thread) mention the importance of going to a "top 5 school" for an MBA.

As you know, my dream is to work in the finance field in Tokyo or in some relation to Japan (I can already speak fluent Japanese from studying there abroad for one year (at Keio University, #1 private school in Japan) and living in Tokyo for 2 years) so I decided to see if there were any MBA programs in Tokyo offered from Western schools.

I did some research and found that I can get my MBA from a Western school in Tokyo from weekend programs (I guess they assume most of the students have full time jobs already).

There are only two universities which offer this:

1) Temple University ( http://www.tuj.ac.jp/emba )
2) McGill University ( http://www.mcgillmbajapan.com/ )

I don't think either of these are "top 5" (although McGill claims to be in the top 50 for business schools in the world).

However, someone please rate me on my reasoning here: if I were to get accepted at one of these two weekend MBA programs and go to Tokyo, do you think it would be easier to approach an ibank or other financial institute in Tokyo and get an internship/entry level job during the week? Or, am I killing my chances of working in the financial field by not going to one of the "top 5" MBA programs?

Also, am I a fool for wanting to get my MBA in Tokyo from a Western institution? Should I just stay back in North America and try to get my MBA from a full time school rather than a weekend program? (It is interesting to note that although both schools are "weekend" schools, the degree is completed within 2 years and credited like a normal program from that institution so the time frame seems to be the same; just that normal MBA program has classes spread out during the week while these weekend programs usually consist of one day per week with classes straight from 9 to 6).

I would appreciate any input regarding this situation. Thanks to all those who have responded so far.

Nov 12, 2010

Question to everyone out there, if your pre-MBA job isn't/wasn't related to banking, how likely is it that you can land an associate job at a bank after an MBA?

Nov 12, 2010
sherborn:

Question to everyone out there, if your pre-MBA job isn't/wasn't related to banking, how likely is it that you can land an associate job at a bank after an MBA?

if you attend top 5 mba program then its "easy" to switch (considering your experience does not fit the new job description). there are a lot of career changers in these top schools. but if you attend on okay program, then dont expect to get into banking as it is not a normal scenario in those schools (maybe 1 out of 300 will make it, more or less)...

Nov 12, 2010

Yes, sorry to say you would be a fool to take your MBA in Tokyo if you even want a chance of getting into IBD again. Sorry to be cruel, I know you like Japan and those Japanese girls(so do I)...but your chance of getting the job would fall.

Go to any of the target IBD schools in the U.S and land utilize the on campus recruiting that is offered by the university...which is one of the main reason you go for MBA anyways so that you get advantage of OCR, which you won't be able to utilize fully in Tokyo. Plus, you can apply for jobs in Asia as well. Most BBs recruit Summer Associates for Asia too. So your chances are better off staying in the U.S.

Yes McGill is top 50 internationally and one of the top for Canada, but I rather go to an U.S. MBA, or INSEAD.

Nov 12, 2010
kbluearmor7:

Yes, sorry to say you would be a fool to take your MBA in Tokyo if you even want a chance of getting into IBD again. Sorry to be cruel, I know you like Japan and those Japanese girls(so do I)...but your chance of getting the job would fall.

Go to any of the target IBD schools in the U.S and land utilize the on campus recruiting that is offered by the university...which is one of the main reason you go for MBA anyways so that you get advantage of OCR, which you won't be able to utilize fully in Tokyo. Plus, you can apply for jobs in Asia as well. Most BBs recruit Summer Associates for Asia too. So your chances are better off staying in the U.S.

Yes McGill is top 50 internationally and one of the top for Canada, but I rather go to an U.S. MBA, or INSEAD.

Thanks, this makes sense to me.

Since the programs are both weekend programs, I assume they are more directed to professionals who already have jobs and are merely looking to enhance their education. They don't seem to be aimed at people like me who want an MBA to increase one's chances of getting a good job afterwards.

So, I assume that both Temple University and McGill University are not target IBD schools then? Is there a list somewhere of target IBD schools or some place I can look to see which universities best fit this category?

You are right, the on campus recruiting would be very important in my situation since I am looking to get started in a job and I definitely wouldn't be able to get access to that by being in Tokyo with only 30 other students who already have jobs and who meet one day per week.

I am guessing that my presence in Tokyo would not aid my case in getting an entry level job at an ibank or other financial institution there and Temple's and McGill's reputation would not be enough to get me a position at an ibank anywhere, either. Is this correct?

Nov 12, 2010

Just as stated already above, going to Japan would be a kill of time money and energy. You could go to Japan and network like crazy but then it's like playing a lottery so, because you are really getting a one time chance with the MBA, I would aim for a top 5 program because this is a significant career change. I think Columbia offers international emba/weekend programs, i know they have classes in london, not sure about tokyo, but also might have classes in asia. again, you should see how well you do on your gmat, thats pretty much the only thing you need to work on as of now.

Nov 12, 2010

Additionally, you can always get a job in the states at bb, and then when the opportunity arises move to Tokyo/hong kong for your english based role. your japanse will probably not be good enough since you will be competing with locals japanese student whom are fluent in the native language. your best bet is to go there as an english speaking native to work in a bb through the states. i ve seen a lot of this.

Nov 12, 2010

McGill people do land jobs in I-banking...but the part time program is just not for a career changer like you. Also, its an Executive MBA program that is geared toward managers who want to go further on the management level.

Target schools for I-Banks (IBD and S&T):

Wharton, Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Duke, NYU, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Booth(U of Chicago).

Nov 12, 2010

Thanks for the great input, MrLove and kbluearmor7. It has really helped me see a better path.

I understand better now why those weekend programs in Tokyo are not appropriate for my situation.

Also, if I really want to get involved in ibanking (and I assume any other high level of financial work), I should put my aim on Wharton, Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Duke, NYU, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, Dartmouth, Northwestern or Booth(U of Chicago) for my MBA.

I quickly checked Wharton's website and it says first time applicants should apply for round 1 or round 2 and the application deadlines for that are October 4 and January 4 respectively.

I have not taken the GMAT yet (nor have I studied for it but it does not seem too difficult from some of the sample questions I took a quick look at) so I am sensing that I cannot apply this year but would have to wait for next year (might be a good thing since it would give me extra time to prepare my applications, study and take the GMAT, etc.)

If it's the case that I wait until October of next year to apply for an MBA, that leaves one of my original questions from my first post: what do I do now?

I am in Philadelphia with nothing to do. Should I try to get involved in some way in finance in this area (even if it means offering to work for free for a year as an "internship")? Or, should I try to make my way up to NYC and see if I can get (again an unpaid) internship there?

Basically, since I cannot apply for an MBA for at least until October of next year, how should I spend my time now to increase my chances of getting into those top schools and also helping me in a career path hopefully at an ibank or other high financial institution?

Thanks again for the messages, it has really helped me a lot.

Nov 13, 2010
7notas7colores:

If it's the case that I wait until October of next year to apply for an MBA, that leaves one of my original questions from my first post: what do I do now?

Do some extra curricular work, that'll help you impress the schools a little more in your application. What kind of internet business is it exactly if you don't me asking? The schools you've listed in particular need a whole lot of impressing to get in to.

People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people Jeremy

Nov 12, 2010

deadlines are in october but schools start accepting applicants in july i think (i may be wrong). so if you apply in july, your chances of getting in are much higher then if you were to apply in october (since you are one of the first few people to apply). if you think gmat is easy, then study for one month and take it in december and then apply for jan deadline to one or two top choices (ie, harvard, wharton, columbia). you'll have one month to complete your essays at least for one school. also get familiar with the application and start looking out for recommendations.

if you cant get your gmat score this year and need more time, then shot for next year and apply to all those programs.

you can take a free exams at mba.com/manhattangmat.com to see where you are and how much you will need to study. also for each point of improvement, it is said you need 2 hours of study time so if you score a 600 and need to get a 750 then you need about 300 hours of study time.

not sure if i can give relevant advice for a job. if you can afford to move to nyc and work for free in a relevant area, then yea, this is your good bet to gain experience (although not sure where to look for an unpaid internship - i guess network your way and offer free work?). i think i'd try to get a temp job through a headhunter. it may blow your mind but at least you can do something with your time and earn some extra cash.

Nov 13, 2010
MrLove:

not sure if i can give relevant advice for a job. if you can afford to move to nyc and work for free in a relevant area, then yea, this is your good bet to gain experience (although not sure where to look for an unpaid internship - i guess network your way and offer free work?). i think i'd try to get a temp job through a headhunter. it may blow your mind but at least you can do something with your time and earn some extra cash.

Hey, thanks for the great advice regarding the gmat and getting an MBA consultant. Since schools start accepting applications in July, I guess I have some time to figure out how I am going to approach all of this.

Question: How do I find headhunters? Also, will these headhunters place me in positions that would look favorable to an MBA program or to an ibank for a job?

nycIBD:

if you want to do ibd in tokyo then you need to be at Nomura and nowhere else. their ib business in japan is the single most dominent shop in any one country globally. period.

So I went to Nomura's site and looked at their career page. I did a search and found that they have a full time analyst position for 2011 in corporate infrastructure. Should I apply to this online? I feel like submitting an online application without any contacts won't get me anywhere. Am I wrong about this?

Also, they have a lot of positions open for students in college or students in MBA programs but again, I don't qualify for either of these since I have been out of college for 2 years now.

Jorge:

Do some extra curricular work, that'll help you impress the schools a little more in your application. What kind of internet business is it exactly if you don't me asking? The schools you've listed in particular need a whole lot of impressing to get in to.

SHORTmyCDO:

Yea, agree with the EC's, they will look good on an application. Why not move to another country for 5-6 months, do something interesting out there and study for the GMAT at the same time. I do think any relevant experience you can get would help you out more so than the above.

Do you have any suggestions for extra curricular work? Can it be anything or should I choose something that is specifically finance related?

The internet business I was doing was website promotion mostly. I have since moved on from that and want to pursue my original dream of working in the financial field.

whydoyoucare:

Getting a finance job in Japan isn't difficult. While I wouldn't say advices here are without merit, they primarily apply to those who are looking for a job in the US. There is a fair chance that you can get a finance job (front office role) at a top bank in Japan without going to MBA.

Banks in Japan (that is, both Japanese and foreign banks) conduct full-time recruiting in US once a year in Boston.

How would I go about approaching getting a job in Japan without an MBA? Should I just go to the major websites and try to send applications (without connections)?

I know about the Boston Career Forum and I am kind of kicking myself for not going this year. It would have been a great opportunity. Also, other members of this forum are suggesting I go for my MBA coming up next year so I am a little confused as to what to do. Should I go to the Boston bilingual job fair next October? Or, should I apply to an MBA program starting next July? I guess it is not impossible to try to prepare for both but I would feel a little incongruent if I were trying to pursue a job and pursue an MBA at the same time. Am I wrong in thinking this?

whydoyoucare:

I haven't seen your resume, but you probably lack financial experience. You need to convince to those who read your resume that you know finance. Studying up on finance and getting some certification is one way, but what's much better is to find a decent internship you can put on a resume. Name doesn't matter - it's what you do. Internship at a small asset management firm that involves investment analysis (it must be something similar or close to this - it's very, very important and try to stay away if job doesn't involve it) is what you should look for. There are some firms around Philly area that you should try cold calling for an unpaid internship. What could also work is getting an internship at a investment research firm in your area who could use your experience at a non-banking sector.

You are right, I do not have a lot of financial experience because my major was at a liberal arts school in Economics and after college I started my own companies in web site promotion rather than work in finance.

My question though is: how do I go about finding these companies (or a list) that I could even approach? I would be willing to contact them but my problem is I have no idea who these companies are. Do you have any ideas for how I could figure this out?

Also, thanks for your advice about the interviewing process. I will definitely have to think about that.

Nov 13, 2010
MrLove:

My question though is: how do I go about finding these companies (or a list) that I could even approach? I would be willing to contact them but my problem is I have no idea who these companies are. Do you have any ideas for how I could figure this out?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_investment_banks
Call them all.

I read your story, really interesting. Leverage that.

Good Luck.

Nov 12, 2010

also, if you have cash to spend, and depending on your gmat score (if you get above 700), i think your best bet would be to hire an mba consultant just to make sure they fine tune your essays/life story. i read your original post one more time and its is pretty interesting. the consultants are paid to point out the relevant information that you may miss and/or dont realize is impressive (i know someone who scored above 700 and then hired an mba consultant and is not in ibanking).

Nov 12, 2010
MrLove:

also, if you have cash to spend, and depending on your gmat score (if you get above 700), i think your best bet would be to hire an mba consultant just to make sure they fine tune your essays/life story. i read your original post one more time and its is pretty interesting. the consultants are paid to point out the relevant information that you may miss and/or dont realize is impressive (i know someone who scored above 700 and then hired an mba consultant and is not in ibanking).

ugh, typos...... should have been "and is now in ibanking"

Nov 13, 2010

1) weed is not addictive, biologically

2) if you want to do ibd in tokyo then you need to be at Nomura and nowhere else. their ib business in japan is the single most dominent shop in any one country globally. period.

Nov 13, 2010

Yea, agree with the EC's, they will look good on an application. Why not move to another country for 5-6 months, do something interesting out there and study for the GMAT at the same time. I do think any relevant experience you can get would help you out more so than the above. There are also more target schools than the ones mentioned above. Search these threads and look at UCLA, Berkley, Ross (Michigan), UVA and more. You need to contact MBA programs and find out about previous years placement and who recruits on campus.

Wharton, Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Duke, NYU, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Booth(U of Chicago).

Nov 13, 2010
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