By Arial Starks
Laura Chen moved to the United States from Changchun, China, in 2017 for career opportunities and a strong education. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Finance from the University of Florida in 2021 before pursuing a Master’s in Finance at Vanderbilt Business in 2022.
Chen says she became interested in finance at a young age.
“Since middle school, I would overhear the business conversations my dad had with firms back in China, and that kind of sparked my interest in finance,” she said.
Before deciding on the MS Finance program, Chen completed several internships with companies, including Bain & Company in Shanghai; Founder Legacy Partners in Los Angeles and MD Global Partners in New York City. Chen says all of these opportunities helped her realize her passion for investment banking.
“I’ve done consulting, private equity, and investment banking, and throughout the experience in private equity, I was introduced to investment banking,” she said. “I saw firsthand how the deals were done and how bankers could not only help with merging acquiring companies but leveraging that to scale the company quickly. My internship at MD Global partners really solidified my interest.”
Chen completed her Pre-3 course requirements over the summer of 2022 and then entered the MS Finance program in August. Shortly after the program began, Chen hit the ground running, meeting with the Career Management Center for resume review with Brook Meissner and Ginny Ling.
“Brook and Ginny were very helpful. Brook walked me through every single detail of the resume, because we wanted to strive for excellence, we didn’t want mediocre work, but excellent,” said Chen.
Chen also participated in mock interviews with her peers and her Transition Coach, a recent MSF graduate who helps support 1st years through recruiting.
“One thing that is really important to me is that we share resources,” said Chen. “We don’t see each other as competition in terms of finding a job. Instead, we want to support each other through the whole process.”
In August, Chen attended several coffee chats with firms, including Black Arch Partners. After networking with a couple analysts and associates with the firm, Chen was invited to a first round phone interview with the company in late August. By early September, she was invited to the firm’s Charlotte office for a Super Day and received a return offer for the full-time position of Investment Banking Analyst at Black Arch Partners.
“The people and overall culture of the firm were huge factors for me. If you have to work long hours you want to be around people who you enjoy working with,” Chen added.
So far, Chen has enjoyed all of her courses, especially Corporate Valuation. She says a lot of the skills she is learning in class will be directly applicable to her role with Black Arch Partners.
“We have a lot of real-world cases presented to us that really solidify what we learn in the lectures. I think it’s really helpful for us to have to put ourselves in an analyst position and apply those skills to the real world,” she said.
Chen attributes her success with landing a job to Vanderbilt Business resources and the school as a whole.
“Without Vanderbilt’s reputation, I would not have been able to get the job. After chatting with a few of the MDs and associates from the firm, they let me know that it is because year after year of the students doing great work, that they want to continue recruiting out of Vanderbilt.”
Click through the timeline below to see how Laura Chen got the job.