I've heard it sets you apart, and shows interest. But I don't get whats the point of work experience if a Harvard philosophy / econ 4.0 guy is gonna beat out a Ross finance 3.6 guy with involvement in finance clubs that teach dcfs and solid work experience.

If work experience and knowing how to model etc is really that important, then the undergraduate business schools would be taking all the BB spots. However, it seems that just showing "interest" in the field is sufficient.

I understand that knowing how to run a DCF going in as a SA or even FT analyst might matter more for elite boutiques and other small shops, but at least for my semi-target, i dont get why people try so hard to get a spot in the clubs that teach you DCFs and lbo models.


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It's not so black and white as you try and portray it. There are a lot of intangibles that cannot be quantified. First, I'll direct you to look at the "big picture, or long term" which is ultimately what firms are looking at when recruiting employees. A Harvard 4.0 grad might beat out the Ross candidate because maybe Harvard Grads with a 4.0 have a track record of success. In this case, although the Ross candidate may have more work experience, the Harvard Grad may have more potential to excel. Banks don't mind being the first work experience in some cases, because it means you also don't come with bad habits. (That's not to say that work experience

Realize grads with a 4.0 from Harvard may not ACTUALLY have more potential than the Ross Grad, but they have no way of knowing that and the best bet is that a Harvard Grad has more potential.
Now, there are also a lot of other intangibles that I didn't mention that are also a part of the equation. How did the interview go? What type of personality do they have? etc etc. These are called Soft Skills and are very important because you want to know that the people you will be working with 80 hrs/wk can tolerate you. A lot of times people from Harvard have been groomed by their family from a young age, and also by the University itself to have very attractive soft skills.

Finally, its always a matter of connections. It's probably safe to assume that the average Harvard Grad has more family/friend connections at firms than does the average Ross Grad. (Remember this is on average, I don't want to hear extreme cases either way)

Also just to be clear, your post makes it seem like obviously a Harvard Grad with better grades and no work experience, beats a Ross grad with worse grades but more work experience. This is definitely not the case. Why do you need work experience, because its another way to make yourself stand out. One way to view this is. Imagine you need a certain point thresh hold to get a job offer. Everything you do or don't do in your life is worth X amount of points. If you need Y amount of points, then if the school you go to, grades you got at that school, connections, work experience/recommendations, soft skills, etc all totals up to X amount of points. If X > or = to Y then you get the offer, if X

Again, the latter example may not have a points boundary that is so cut and dry where + or - 1 pt. will grant you or keep you from a job offer, but it's a good rule of thumb.
Good Luck.

Financial Modeling


A Harvard junior with a 4.0 and no work experience isn't getting interviews unless he's networked or he's on the football team or something. Too many other people (like his Harvard buddies) who've done internships, joined finance, club, and all that other stuff and kept up their GPA, too.


I thought this until I started working and had my own summer analysts (and later 1st year analysts) to manage. It was night and day between those with prior work experience and those without it -- the latter were way too immature and just didn't "get" it. It's more excusable for a summer analyst to not have prior work experience, but the (few) 1st years with whom I dealt who had no experience were simply terrible.

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