Every year around fall break, the Vanderbilt Business Career Management Center (CMC) plans 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 10 different banks and financial firms on the Finance Treks: Wells Fargo, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Piper Jaffray, Deloitte Corporate Finance, Jefferies, Goldman Sachs, RBC Capital Markets, Houlihan Lokey, UBS, and Cain Brothers. Below, three first-year MBAs explain why they chose to attend the Finance Treks and how they found the experience valuable.
Jarvis Werkhaven (MBA’21)
Coming into Owen, I was interested in pursuing a career in investment banking and attended both the Wall Street and Charlotte Treks over fall break. I was excited to experience the industry firsthand by visiting banks, meeting alumni, and learning about their deal flow and culture.
Prior to the trek, the Career Management Center (CMC) and second-year MBAs worked diligently to help students understand the investment banking recruiting process and prepare us for networking with employers. This proved invaluable, as we met with 10 different banks throughout the week for formal info sessions and social receptions. I was amazed to see the strength of the Owen alumni base and made many connections that have allowed me to gain traction in the recruiting process.
Visiting both middle market firms and bulge bracket banks in such an accelerated timeframe afforded us the unique opportunity to evaluate each bank and determine our best personal “fit.” I discovered that culture was crucial for me; personally, I was attracted to banks that clearly outlined the role of an associate, provided ample opportunities for junior bankers, and demonstrated a commitment to training and development. I was initially surprised at the variety of opportunities available and motivated to dedicate myself to finding the right one for me.
Overall, the trek highlighted the investment banking landscape and served as a key platform for the recruiting process. In addition, the cohort on the trip cultivated a strong bond and motivated us for a career in the financial services industry. —Jarvis Werkhaven
Hannah Turnbull (MBA’21)
By attending the Wall Street Finance Trek in NYC, I was able to solidify my path forward for internship recruitment. The trek gave me increased opportunities to interact with CMC coaches, second years, and practitioners in the finance field.
I have an engineering background and started the MBA program ready to learn about any and all industries until one piqued my interest. I quickly latched on to finance and was easily convinced by a CMC coach to attend the Wall Street Trek. While I was hesitant at first — since I have a different professional background from many of my peers who are also pursuing internships in finance — I was reminded to stay curious and understand that the trek could be just as much of a learning experience as it could be a recruiting trip. I prepared for the trek by speaking with second years about their internship and trek experiences and attending sessions through the Owen Finance Club (hosted by second years in the industry) to learn more about the functional areas within banking.
Looking back, I’m so glad that I booked that ticket to NYC and spent a few days immersed in the banking world. There is nothing like the first-hand experience of walking into beautiful buildings in Midtown Manhattan and the Financial District to learn about companies from Vanderbilt alumni. I vigilantly took notes about the nuances of the different companies we visited and wrote down industry-specific terms that I needed to look up between sessions. The amount of information we were given about each company, coupled with the degree of transparency offered through candid, honest advice by alumni, was a tremendous value-add. Additionally, I learned more about my classmates in those few days than I had in an entire quarter of classes.
The Wall Street Finance Trek reinforced my desire to pursue a career in finance and gave me relationships with my classmates and practitioners that I look forward to developing. —Hannah Turnbull
Teddy Reeve (MBA’21)
Knowing I wanted pursue a career in investment banking when coming into Owen, I had the Wall Street and Charlotte treks on my calendar at the beginning of school. Throughout the fall, a number of banks hosted information sessions on campus, and I looked forward to seeing these banks and others during the trek. I was eager to continue to learn more about their unique selling points and culture and hear from Vanderbilt alumni about their experience at their respective firms.
Leading up to the trek, the second-year MBAs and the Career Management Center (CMC) prepared us by familiarizing students with the investment banking industry and what the recruiting process entailed. This preparation proved to be an exceptional resource, as it provided everyone with a strong base understanding of how we should approach recruiting and make the most of our time on the trek.
Because of the condensed timeline and the broad spectrum of banks we visited, each of us was able to understand and evaluate how we could see ourselves fitting into the culture at certain banks. Each session gave us the opportunity to gather perspectives directly from bankers and to understand how the associate role differed between each bank. By end of the trek, we had met and developed a network of over 40 bankers we could continue to work with us as we began the formal recruiting process.
Additionally, this year provided a unique experience because of Owen’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, where we joined alumni in each city for Closing Bell to celebrate the school’s history. Each alum’s passion for the school was clear as they told stories of their time on campus, and it was a great reminder of why I came to Owen. —Teddy Reeve