Undergrad student looking for some advice

FusRoDah's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 12

Hey all,

I am a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis (top 15 overall undergrad, Olin is top 15 undergrad b-school, go Cardinals) and am looking for some advice on how to approach my next 4 years. I've been reading WSO for about a year now and have at least a cursory understanding of the attitudes here so I won't bullshit any of you; I'm looking for the best way to prepare myself for a job in (I think) finance and the most lucrative career possible. From what I understand finance and accounting seem to be the best degrees for high salaries and career advancements in the financial industry. Current interests include I-banking and hedgefunds, subject to change.

I can get a high enough GPA, my main question concerns areas of study. I am thinking about minoring in math and/or economics or possibly majoring in finance or one of those two. What would you recommend? I also am interested in mechanical engineering, CS/EE is not my thing so I am not sure how useful Mech E would be to a financial career.

My second plan of attack is to major in engineering and go into that field first and then make the jump to the corporate/management/financial side of the engineering firm ASAP.

The dillema I am facing is pretty much dependent on the state of the economy in 2015 when I graduate. I would prefer to go into the financial industry over engineering but I don't know how healthy this industry will be come graduation. What do you think the job prospects will look like in 4 years? Olin places students extremely well, at least according to their official stats, I do think this is true as I know a few kids who have jobs lined up with Goldman, JP Morgan, Chase, Citi etc. after they graduate. Olin kind of straddles the fence, not a target school per se for the firms I just listed but still sends grads to the street where there is a small but connected alumni group.

So any recommendations/comments/concerns are greatly appreciated.

Also does study abroad matter? I have a lot of options.

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Comments (4)

Oct 29, 2011

Olin is not a great school. Why pay all that money, it's a magnet for rich kids like USC.

In terms of job prospects, no one can predict what banking will look like in 2015. The market is highly volatile right now and what's going on today in the short run is not a good indicator of future marekts, which are more stable. The economy goes in cycles, so one can say with surety that by 2015 we will be in either a bear or bullish market, unless we end up like Japan, which is not so unlikely given the current debt load.

Anyway, regarding Mech E versus Finance, do what you like. No major is required for investment banking, many liberal arts/history majors make the best bankers. Your idea of engineering for a company and then switching to corp will be tough. Most engineers get pigeon holed into engineering positions and most corp fin/mgmt at your undergrad level get hired into rotational programs right out of undergrad. If you pursue engineering, which is great (I was an Engineering major), you will most likely have to go back to get your MBA to switch into corp fin/banking. However, the ultimate advice anyone can give you now is to set short term goals and do what you love. College is about exploring and taking risks, not setting up a roadmap for gauranteed compensation in the future (which is not the case too banks are notorious for overhiring and quickfiring). If you don't explore and widen your vision in college, you will end up the typical myopic ibanker the rest of your life, missing out on great opportunities from the risks you could've taken and the rewards those choices yielded.

Good luck.

Oct 29, 2011

Olin is not that well known on Wall St. But I would recommend you taking more technical majors. so avoid pure liberal arts majors. Engineering is great.

I wish you the best of luck.

Oct 30, 2011

my advice to you is to consider careers outside of finance as a hedge. the industry is seriously fuxored at all levels right now. i can sum it up in two words: regulation and deleveraging. if you are building your expectations off what you saw over the last 15 years you are driving with the rear view mirror. do some research on what finance was like as a career between 1965-1980.

Oct 30, 2011