By Arial Starks
Investment banking is one of the most popular career paths within the finance industry. There are many ways to effectively launch into investment banking, but a few things must be considered in order to get started. We spoke with Jack Eyre, Director, Master of Science in Finance at Vanderbilt Business, who shares his insight on how to break into the industry.
What educational background do I need?
To successfully launch a career in investment banking, you will need a minimum of a 4-year degree exemplifying a quantitative educational background. Undergraduate majors among finance professionals can differ depending on individual interests, but most lean towards a focus on finance, accounting, and/or business.
While not required to land a role in the industry, an advanced degree is preferred to get your foot in the door with many finance companies. Vanderbilt Business offers 2 distinct programs that help students successfully launch careers in investment banking: an MS Finance, which equips recent graduates with fundamental knowledge of the industry, and a traditional full-time MBA with a finance concentration, which is geared toward working professionals pivoting into finance.
“The unique aspect of having programs designed to help students launch careers in investment banking is that they do capture students with diversity in academic backgrounds,” Eyre said. “Some come in with that finance major, but we also have students that come from non-traditional backgrounds who have the quantitative connections needed to succeed in this industry.”
What professional experience do I need?
Gaining knowledge in finance by furthering your education is a great step towards launching a career in investment banking, but the ultimate test to determine whether you will be successful in the industry is by directly applying the skills and concepts you have learned. You can achieve this in a low-risk environment through internships.
“Investment banking internships will provide students with on-the-job training and skill development,” Eyre explained. “They gain that theoretical experience through our coursework here at Owen, but to have that real-world experience that mimics what you will likely be doing in your first year as an analyst, often solidifies or clarifies a student’s interest in IB.”
Eyre adds that students looking to launch a career in investment banking should remain humble, but hungry for opportunities, as it is a competitive industry.
“You really must have that stick-to-it attitude and a sense of humility throughout the process because you may come across obstacles and failure while trying to land that investment banking role,” he said. “It’s also important to realize that thinking you are the smartest person in the room and have nothing to learn will not get you very far.”
Who should I be networking with?
In the finance industry, and especially in a competitive field such as investment banking, networking is a key component to getting your foot in the door with highly sought-after employers. Eyre says it is vital to have a broad array of professional contacts within the industry as you figure out your career trajectory and which professions align with your goals.
“When navigating competitive job industries like IB, networking can be used as a tool to get your foot in the door with companies,” Eyre shared. “Networking is important because if you are just throwing applications into the void, you can start to feel stuck. Having a point of contact within a company has proven valuable for many.”
Eyre points to the Vanderbilt Business network of faculty, staff, alumni, and students as an example of a strong and resourceful network.