Breaking into the finance industry

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Alex Kis's picture

It has been particularly difficult for me to break into finance coming from a non-target school. I was accepted to other very prestigious schools but I chose Northeastern because of the full academic scholarship they offered. However, the resources needed to break into investment banking are relatively few and the number of alumni working in the field is limited. On the other hand, alumni from non-target schools might be more helpful because they know the struggle you are going through. Another obstacle I am still facing is not being a US citizen. If an employer decides to offer me a full time job after graduation, he has to sponsor my work visa. The issue is that not all employers can afford such an expense. For this reason I had to exclude most small boutiques and regional banks from my search.

In my sophomore year, I joined the Student Value Fund, a student run organization that invests part of the school’s endowment. HOLT Lens was one of the tools that some analysts there were using to screen for potential investments. I became very interested in the HOLT platform and one of my fellow analysts recommended that I participate in the HOLT Valuation Challenge. I made it to the final round and got access to HOLT Lens for the rest of my time in college.  HOLT Lens is an extremely useful tool because it is something unique and it is always a good topic to discuss in interviews. In many of my interviews, I met Credit Suisse alumni that were impressed with my exposure to the platform. In one of my interviews with a venture capital firm from Palo Alto, five out of the six rounds of interviews were conducted by people who had worked for HOLT.

I started looking for my first internship during my sophomore year. I began my research by cold calling and cold e-mailing professionals in the industry. While this was a great resource to learn more about finance, it did not get me any interviews because I had no experience and I was only a sophomore. I then participated in the Emerging Leaders Competition and got my video published by Project Firefly. Although I did not make it to the finalist round, I learned a lot about the oil market while putting together the presentation. This ended up being crucial in getting my first internship. One of the candidates for whose political campaign I volunteered became CEO of a large automobile spare parts manufacturing company that was expanding in the lubricating and greases sector. During one of our chats he was impressed with my knowledge of the oil sector. He offered to introduce me to some experts in the industry and I managed to get a summer internship at Citibank. At Citi I worked as an industry analyst. After Citibank, I accepted a position at Grantham Mayo van Otterloo (GMO), a quant hedge fund in Boston. I am currently working in the pricing team mainly covering futures (index, commodity and equity) and equities (both foreign and local). I will work for GMO until the end of December, and then I will return to take classes.

I use my time outside of work (which is not too much), networking with professionals in the hopes of getting an investment banking internship for my junior year. I am confident that my exposure to HOLT Lens is a valuable asset that helped me differentiate myself from all the other candidates.

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