MBA Jobs – How to Land on Wall Street Even During a Financial Crisis

The Financial Ride (image: elisamike)

How to Land a Job on Wall Street Even During a Financial Crisis

by Grayson Leverenz

One of my closest friends from B-school is a Wall Street Whiz Kid. He loves the markets. He loves exploring, analyzing and predicting; he loves every part of the financial ride. I talked to him earlier this week about the economy, and he shared some insights for students pursuing the Wall Street dream.

The Pie is Getting Smaller

As banks consolidate, collapse and cut back, the number of available positions on Wall Street shrinks. The pie doesn’t disappear; it simply gets smaller, leading to increased competition for jobs.

Competition is not new for MBAs. Acceptance rates at top 20 MBA programs in the USA average about 12%, indicating that every enrolled student knows what it means to compete. This new global economy elevates competition among the best and brightest as students go after their slice of a smaller pie.

I asked my Wall Street guru what this smaller pie means for International students seeking employment with H-1B sponsorship, and he responded, “Banks will always be looking for talent. It doesn’t matter if you are American or International, they want the best.”

How to Show You’re the Best

Commit early. If you came to B-school to get a job on Wall Street, do not waver because the markets are falling. If you know it’s what you want, commit.

Focus. Once you’ve committed, it’s time to focus your search. Research the industry. Know the impact of the financial crisis around the world. Learn about the US banks, and the positions available for 2009 MBA internships. Then, define your target. Take a similar approach to your MBA program search by prioritizing “reach” companies, “match” companies and “safe” companies.

Go after it. With your priorities in hand, go after your offer. Attend on-campus company presentations, and take a leadership role if possible. Volunteer to be the company host to the campus, one of the best ways to ensure the Recruiters know you. Network with alumni at your targeted banks. Schedule informational interviews, in person if possible, and attend informal networking sessions as available. Learn to sell your skills as benefits to the banks, and interview with style.

If the Offer Doesn’t Come

Disappointment comes for a percentage of students every year in the MBA internship process. Given the current economic environment, the disappointment factor will inevitably be higher this year compared to more prosperous times. If you don’t get an offer with your targeted list, it’s time to cast a wider net. Consider smaller banks, or even consulting. Try to keep your summer position relevant to your overall goals to create the best selling story for 2nd year when you’re looking for full time employment (e.g. if you’re interning in consulting, shoot for a banking focus).

The Bottom Line

Wall Street jobs for MBAs are out there. Fewer yes, but they are there, for International students as well as students from the US. With the right preparation, you can make your Wall Street dream come true. As my guru says, “The next couple of years will be challenging, but I’m taking it as a learning opportunity. I’m learning so much every day.” In my opinion, that’s what it’s all about, enjoying the ride.

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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1 Comment

  1. Good words.

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