Do you thrive on competition?
Love research and analysis?
Boast both quantitative and persuasive communication skills?

Then you might want to consider the field of investment banking. According to Career Cruising (available via CES’ career resources page) investment bankers analyze companies with financial problems, recommend ways for them to raise funds, find new investors, and negotiate deals (such as corporate mergers, sales, and acquisitions).

The perks of investment banking? Great salaries, travel, and prestige.
The downsides? Long hours, intense competition, and little margin for error.
Still interested?

The typical background for the field is a Bachelor’s degree in Business or Economics, though other majors can work as well if they’ve included a quantitative focus and studied finance and accounting. As an extremely competitive field, a high GPA will often be a requirement for consideration, along with significant related internship experience. Technical skills are also important because entry-level roles will often involve using spreadsheet programs to build financial models, maintaining databases, and employing sophisticated research tools. Moving up often requires additional schooling, such as an MBA, and completing professional certifications like the Charter Financial Analyst Exam.

The larger investment banking organizations tend to recruit for entry-level full time positions in early fall; summer internship deadlines are often early in January or February. To stand out in the application process you’ll need a stellar resume that highlights your quantitative abilities and analytical skills, plus ability to exhibit confidence and quick-thinking during interviews.

A 2008 alumnus who has worked in investment banking for the last few years offers this advice for breaking into the field:

Preparedness is key as the interview process will require you to be familiar with concepts and ways of thinking that go beyond what you’ve probably learned in the classroom to date.  An early start (around 6 months before the interviews) will help to ensure that these concepts have time to sink in and so that you can appear polished during the rapid and selective interview process.  A thorough grasp of the field is also important, and should be cultivated by speaking to practicing professionals in addition to consulting news and published resources.

Starting early is so important to this field that students with an interest would do well to start preparing to apply for Summer Analyst positions in September and October of their junior year. If you’d like to get your resume in shape to compete in the process, come to CES to get started.

For more information about investment banking as a career field, check out the website Careers in Investment Banking.

© 2011 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound
Photo: s_falkow