If you haven’t already, read all of the other prep categories because that information is what you should learn first. The items below are mostly additive suggestions that we think are helpful and important to developing your career.
1. Stay True To Yourself
Throughout your interview process and career, you are going to meet people that will act a certain way and fit a “stereotypical” finance mold. Don’t feel obligated to be like these people or do things that you might not have done growing up. They might go sailing on the weekend, talk about their house in Nantucket, or shop at Ferragamo. None of these things are necessary to get a job in this field, let alone help you fit in. We had very traditional Indian backgrounds, but we didn’t hide our culture when interviewing or in the office. In fact, we would find ways to introduce our culture to people in the office by doing things such as ordering Indian food in the bull-pen during late nights or inviting co-workers to cultural events. Often times you will find that people appreciate different backgrounds as long as you are nice about it and show a passion for sharing that aspect of your life.
2. Give Back When You Can
Most people in this industry wouldn’t be where they are without mentors. Some people are luckier than others in finding that relationship. Most people do not have that guidance and never get a job in finance. If you are one of the lucky ones that does make it, try to give back and teach younger students. We had mentors that taught us about the industry and helped us interview, which is why we wanted to give back and do the same. Pass down the knowledge you have learned to other people so they don’t necessarily have to go through the same struggles that you did. Fostering a good community and promoting more diversity in the industry will only help more people.
3. Your Interest In Finance Might Change
Right now you might really want that job/internship in banking, consulting, or private equity. You might even be willing to do anything to get it; however, when you do get the job you might realize it’s not for you. Maybe you don’t find the work as interesting, don’t like the work environment, or maybe you find another opportunity that you like even more. It is totally okay to walk away. Not everyone is meant to be an investment banker. The point of doing internships and post college jobs is to find out what you really like and what you want to do long term.
4. Find The Best Firm For You
People are really focused on getting the most prestigious job in this industry, as anyone should be, but look at the broader industry landscape and see where you would fit best. Try to find a place where you will learn the most and be the happiest. Megafunds are often considered the most prestigious private equity firms in the world, but they aren’t the right fit for most people; they are usually very big and very corporate. There are dozens if not hundreds of other firms that would probably be a better fit for most people. Although this industry is pretty selective and it can be hard to have multiple job options, chances are that you can find a firm where you will thrive the most.
5. Don’t Worry About Your Background
Students often ask if their college is good enough or if they have the right internship experience to get a certain job. Don’t worry about this. Your school that you have chosen and past internships are already set in stone. Worrying about these things won’t change your future. Focus on what you can change: clubs you are part of, how you prep for interviews, how you present yourself, and your overall knowledge. Firms will always hire smart, hardworking, and talented people regardless of their school and experience.