Are you interested in finance?

Whether you’re just starting to explore the world of finance, or you’re trying to decide between investment banking, sales and trading, equity research, asset/wealth management, private equity, venture capital, and a variety of other areas within finance (it’s a lot, right?), we at the Bates Center for Purposeful Work are here to support you.

While your general and specific interests may change over time, it’s to your advantage to work closely with us from the moment you start to consider the industry, especially since the process for getting into areas like investment banking can start early — even in your first year.

For most finance roles, the biggest success factors are:

  • A strong GPA (3.5 or above, with a minimum of 3.0)
  • A strong resume → Get your resume reviewed early by Purposeful Work!
  • A strong network of alumni, friends, and connections within financial organizations to advise and advocate for you before, during, and after the application process
  • A clear understanding of application timelines and deadlines (for first-year and sophomore exploration, junior internships, and senior opportunities), particularly the critical application period taking place the summer prior to and fall of your junior year
  • A clear understanding of the finance landscape, your areas of interest, and how your values, strengths, skills, and even personality lend themselves to your success in those areas of interest

Careers in finance require you to demonstrate interest in the industry as early as your first and sophomore years through personal research and professional exploration.

  • Firsthand/Vault Guides are available in the Career Center: Resources section of Handshake to provide you with a basic and broad understanding of the finance landscape. Additional research online and with individuals in the industry will provide a deeper and more dynamic understanding of what the work looks like in different areas within finance.
  • Purposeful Work offers job shadows, roadshows, spotlights, employer information sessions, and other activities that can help you figure out your interests and potential pathways that might align with those interests, while connecting you with alumni and recruiters who can offer unique insider perspectives on organizations.
  • Equity and inclusion considerations: More and more organizations within the industry are focused on improving diversity and representation, particularly by recruiting more women, historically excluded minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. If these identities apply to you, watch for and connect with these efforts, initiatives, and programs, many of which focus on first-year and sophomore students.
  • Take the time to do the necessary research on organizations of interest. Explore organizational websites, particularly the sections on undergraduate recruitment and hiring. Express interest, participate in virtual activities, and think critically about why you’re drawn to specific organizations and their opportunities.

While large financial organizations recruit predominantly from Ivy League institutions and large research universities, they often leverage alumni from small liberal arts colleges to make connections with their alma mater. Bates has a broad network of alumni at many of the world’s largest financial organizations, as well as a wide range of financial organizations varying in size and focus in terms of their work.

  • At present, we have several alumni at Barclays (in investment banking), Citi (in sales and trading), and Credit Suisse (in equity research), who are actively engaged with their recruitment teams. While these alumni focus largely on recruiting for the indicated areas, they can potentially help you make connections to colleagues in other areas within their organizations. Reach out to Hoi Ning Ngai at hngai@bates.edu to discuss your interests and whether connecting with these alumni would make sense based on pathways you’re looking to explore and/or pursue.
  • Utilizing the alumni section of the Bates College LinkedIn page, identify alumni at organizations and in roles of interest and reach out to learn more. Whether alumni are currently at organizations of interest or have been at those organizations previously, they can provide unique perspectives on their experiences and pathways. And while alumni may not be actively engaged in recruitment, they may still have useful connections, strategies, and wisdom. Consider them as potential advocates, mentors, and even mock interviewers as you navigate the industry. If you’re new to networking, check out our how-to guides on making professional connections.

Many financial organizations tend to hire full-time analysts primarily from their pool of summer interns. To ensure that you’re well-positioned for full-time offers after graduation, you must be ready to apply for intern positions by the summer before or fall of your junior year. Before you submit them, be sure to have your materials reviewed several times by the Bates Center for Purposeful Work team to ensure that they’re the strongest they can be.

We strongly encourage you to engage in exploration and networking activities as soon as you consider the idea of finance as a potential career pathway. Make an appointment on Handshake with any of our business-focused advisors to get started: Hoi Ning Ngai, Beverly Vari, and Marianne Cowan.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What kind of students are financial organizations seeking?

Like many employers, financial organizations are seeking well-rounded students who are highly motivated, with superior communication skills and attention to detail. Because analyst positions are so competitive, financial organizations often screen candidates for high GPAs, high test scores (if applicable), and demonstrated leadership through academics, athletics, clubs/organizations, on-campus employment, and other relevant experiences.

Are financial organizations drawn to particular majors?

Students with English majors can succeed as well as Economics majors, though exposure to and experience with quantitative courses and courses on financial markets can be particularly helpful, even if they don’t contribute to majors or minors. Depending on your areas of interest, consider how your majors, minors, GECs, and electives — from course elements to research activities to thesis responsibilities — provide you with opportunities to develop relevant technical and essential skills.

What should I be doing over sophomore summer? What if I can’t get an internship?

Relevant summer experience is critical to showing an interest in and commitment to a career in finance. However, internships can often be hard for sophomores to obtain, especially when they’re competing against juniors with more knowledge and skills. Any opportunities that provide you with the chance to cultivate relevant knowledge and skills can be valuable. For example, exposure to financial statements and spreadsheets can be helpful if you’re interested in investment banking. A fast-paced environment with client-facing responsibilities can be useful if you’re interested in sales and trading. The emphasis should be on the nature of the work rather than the environment or industry in which it’s being done.

Will studying abroad affect my chances of getting interviews during my junior year?

Studying abroad is a great way to gain global perspectives on financial markets, so doing so shouldn’t limit you from applying for internships or getting selected for interviews. Since the pandemic, financial organizations have (had to) become more agile in terms of interviewing candidates on virtual platforms. As a result, many organizations are more willing and able to engage with students studying at institutions across the country and around the world. Depending on the organization and the constantly changing landscape of recruitment and hiring, however, students may be expected to interview in person, especially for final interviews (often referred to as super days).

Is my senior year too late to explore finance?

If you’re just starting to explore finance as a senior, it’s unlikely that you’ll be competitive for roles at larger financial organizations immediately after graduation, unless you’ve had significant exposure to quantitative courses and financial markets. You’ll most likely need to consider starting at smaller financial organizations, exploring other organizations with financial roles, taking additional coursework, or pursuing a master’s degree in finance. That said, financial organizations of all sizes will do in-time hiring to fill full-time analyst classes not completely filled by summer interns. Because these opportunities typically have short turnaround times, pay attention to Purposeful Work communications, Handshake, LinkedIn, and other relevant platforms to make sure you don’t miss out on these time-sensitive opportunities.