Had always thought about doing one of these, and finally got around to doing it. A little background on me:
-Target/Semi-Target School (Top 5 LAC)
-Humanities major (Philosophy)
I spent my junior year interning on a buy-side trading desk. The last week of the internship, we were told that none of us were getting offers. Honestly, it was pretty tough trying to recruit after that..if you don't get a return offer you are sort of seen as "damaged goods". Additionally, most slots fill up with their summer interns so that made it pretty tough as well. I definitely felt at a disadvantage because I majored in philosophy compared to all the economics majors coming from my school. I cast a wide net: trading, research, IBD, risk, etc...I just wanted a job. I ended up landing an offer after graduation for a large asset manager as a portfolio analyst, which I ended up turning down to join the boutique I am about to leave.
What I do now: Everyone needs collateral, and a lot of this is handled by "back office" people making sure that the balance sheet is OK. We structure collateral for financial institutions, but our main market is insurers and reinsurers. The collateral serves a specific purpose, to finance excess reserve requirements. What does this mean? Well, suppose Insurance Co. A issues life insurance policies--Insurance Co. A needs to hold collateral against all policies that they issue. The actuary does his math and calculates that they need to hold X, in the biz this is called the "economic reserve". But wait, it's cool those guys think they only need to hold X, but now they've gotta use specific models (PBR) outlined by a larger governing body to calculate another level of reserve..so add Y to the X. X + Y is known as the "VM-20" reserve (in life insurance). But wait..there's more: there's a modified version of VM-20 that they've gotta calculate, so add Z to this. X + Y + Z = AG 48 reserve. (Note: this is super over-simplified and the law is a little more complicated than this...but I tried to make it a 100 level description)
Companies generally fund the economic reserve (X) through assets that they own. And the VM-20/AG48 (X/Y) reserves are funded on a contingent basis, via letters of credit, etc. We structure deals to fund reserve requirements.
I'm not a lawyer, nor do I plan on law school, but I have always been fascinated by the law and regulation, which is why I took this job. Going to GS TMT --> BX --> HBS has never really been a "dream" of mine. Life is too non-linear to get caught up in that; not dissing people who want to do that or anything, but the most well-worn path isn't always the best for you.
Feel free to ask away. I'll answer what I can.