By Kara Sherrer
Every year around fall break, the Vanderbilt Business Career Management Center (CMC) plans a couple of treks to two major finance hubs, New York, NY, and Charlotte, NC. The treks happen right before recruiting kicks off for investment banking internships, and students use the trips to network with alumni, recruiters, and other employees who are instrumental in the job search process.
This year, students visited 11 different banks and financial firms on the Finance Treks: Wells Fargo, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (both cities), Piper Jaffray, Deloitte Corporate Finance, Jefferies, Goldman Sachs, RBC Capital Markets, JPMorgan Chase, Houlihan Lokey, and UBS. Below, three first-year MBAs explain why they chose to attend the Finance Treks and how they found the experience valuable.
Hunter Hagenbach (MBA’20)
Coming into Owen with a focus on investment banking, I had the Wall Street and Charlotte Treks on my calendar since the first day of Mod I. Knowing that the recruiting process for investment banking would require hard work and dedication, I looked forward to the opportunity to see what each bank had to offer and to connect with Owen alumni who would provide candid and relatable feedback on their experiences in the industry.
In the weeks leading up to the treks, the Career Management Center (CMC) and second-year MBAs made dedicated efforts to help prepare students for interactions with employers, and to develop the appropriate mindset for the start of recruiting. We entered the week excited to learn more about each bank, with the realization that finding the best “fit” has become the most common goal for recruiting firms. All together, we met with 11 banks and over 40 alumni, and the presentations, banker panels, and small break-out sessions did not disappoint.
Between visits with M&A focused firms like Deloitte Corporate Finance and full-service bulge brackets like Goldman Sachs, the trek allowed students to experience the unique advantages and cultures that these firms provide. In the days that followed each visit, we experienced the full effect of the Owen alumni network as we continued conversations via email, phone calls, and coffee chats with our top firms of interest.
As the trip ended on Thursday, we left the trek with a clearer picture of the investment banking landscape and the weeks of recruiting that lay ahead. Most importantly, the trip and the conversations that followed provided a first-hand reminder of why many of us chose to attend school here at Owen, and motivated us to join a portion of the Owen network that is clearly thriving in the financial services industry. —Hunter Hagenbach
Emily Keenan (MBA’20)
I decided to take advantage of the Finance Trek as an opportunity to further explore the finance industry. Coming to business school after working in financial services, I already had a love for finance but knew the financial service role I had was just a small portion of the industry. I came to Owen with an open mind, hoping to explore all career opportunities both in finance and beyond.
Upon arriving at Owen, I learned about the Finance Trek, which gives students the chance to visit Charlotte and New York and see investment banking first-hand. Before attending the trek, I had read books and articles about investment banking but had not had the opportunity to interview members in the field. On the trek, we students were able to chat with employees and also learn about the finance industry as a whole, which is crucial as we begin our interviewing process.
The trek was an exciting opportunity because I was not only meeting potential employers but also networking with potential team members. We talked to numerous staff members at each bank that we visited and it was a great opportunity to ask each employee about the culture and the role. Each bank also gave a presentation of the opportunities that were available and examples of the projects that interns would complete.
I also learned a lot from my fellow Owen students on the trek. It was great to hear the questions that each student asked and to analyze what others thought about the role. Their thoughtful questions helped me to really think about each position as I start recruiting for internships. —Emily Keenan
Lindsay Bohannon (MBA’20)
I attended both the Wall Street and Charlotte Finance Treks because I am interested in entering investment banking after completing my MBA and I wanted a first-hand perspective of the cultures, deal flow, and alumni at each bank. The value of the treks is priceless; they give students the opportunity to gather perspectives directly from bankers and to develop a network to follow up with afterwards. I have personally followed up and met with several bankers from the treks, and they have helped me build a foothold in their respective banks. Such relationships are key to ultimately obtaining an offer.
Because the treks take place over such a short time period, it creates an environment where students can quickly develop a framework for what elements of each bank are appealing. I was attracted to the banks that clearly articulated what the associate role entails and how many deals the typical associate could expect to work on at one time. Furthermore, the trek helped me determine personal fit for each bank because I was able to ask what traits the banks look for in their associates. I was initially surprised at how variable the answer to this question was between the banks.
One aspect I did not anticipate going into the trip was the friendships I would develop with classmates. Prior to the trip, I only knew a select few very well. By the end of the trip, I felt I had built a good rapport with several peers. In one particular instance, a classmate and I got our shoes shined together. I think it provided some comic relief for our other classmates who coincidentally walked by and saw us grinning atop the two chairs on a crowded New York City sidewalk.
All in all, I am pleased to have participated in both legs of this year’s Finance Trek — it was extremely valuable to my job search. —Lindsay Bohannon