Finance is a difficult industry to enter. Many students apply to the available positions dreaming of a fast track to big money and the good life. With all the competition, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door. There are a few things you can do to improve your odds, however.
An appropriate major is an obvious place to start. Business, economics, finance and accounting are all good choices for those who wish to work in the financial sector. The coursework covered in these degrees will provide the student with the basic knowledge required for an entry-level position in the finance industry.
While in college, it is important to obtain an internship. Interviewers do not expect candidates to know much and are primarily looking at personality traits, work ethic and motivation. Companies will have orientations and training programs to teach new recruits the job specific knowledge required to perform their duties.
Internships are an excellent way to obtain work experience and references. Even if the internship doesn’t lead to a full-time position with the company it will provide experience that can be used as a talking point in future interviews.
It’s best to start internships as early as possible in your college career. This will provide the maximum experience possible. If you are able to obtain three summer internships in different fields, it will give you an idea of what is involved in the different financial sectors. The experience will give you an idea of which sector you prefer and will allow you to articulate the reason for that preference in job interviews.
Students who are not majoring in business, finance or a related field are not completely out of luck. While at a disadvantage compared to students with more relevant degrees, a liberal arts major can still break into the financial field. It is important that they learn the financial lingo, however. A good way to do this is to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, and read it every day. When coming across a word or phrase that is unfamiliar, it is important to look up the word instead of passing over it. In short, it is important to study the articles and understand them. Skimming the articles will not suffice.
Taking the Chartered Financial Analyst Level 1 exam is a final consideration. Financial professionals will respect the time and energy it took to pass the test and know that you are a motivated person who’s dedicated to finance.