By Eigen Escario
There are a multitude of career paths for those pursuing a Master of Science in Finance, whether it be investment banking, wealth management, consulting, or corporate finance. In order to maximize the opportunities for experience and learning that students will gain from this program, Jack Eyre, Director, Vanderbilt MS Finance, explains the ways an MS Finance prepares you for corporate finance.
What Is Corporate Finance?
First, it is important to define what a career in corporate finance actually entails.
“There are a few popular routes within corporate finance, one of which is ensuring the overall financial well-being of a company,” Eyre said. “That could look like modeling work studying potentials for mergers and acquisitions, producing high-level financial statements, and developing models and forecasting to understand the spending patterns of a company.”
He also mentions some opportunities that MS Finance students have pursued in specific areas on the corporate finance track.
“This past year, we had one student in the MSF program who’s doing a rotational program with a bank in Cincinnati,” Eyre said. “This is only one example of a potential starting point in commercial banking.”
Laying Down The Foundation & Finding Focus
There are a couple of things students can do to prepare and make the most out of their time in the MS Finance program before launching their careers.
“I don’t think there’s necessarily one right way of going about it,” Eyre said. “I think the best way to set yourself up for success is to really immerse yourself in different kinds of relevant things both with academics and extracurriculars.”
Choosing courses that are more quantitative in nature will provide a good foundation for higher-level economic classes that are needed for this field.
“It’s best to be mindful about having a robust foundation in quantitative coursework, as well as internships and different work opportunities that get your feet wet within corporate finance,” Eyre said. “As a student, you should ask yourself what exactly about corporate finance interests you, and maybe test out an internship to either affirm your passion or signal a pivot in a different direction.”
Resources at Owen exist to help students find their specific niche. For example, the Career Management Center (CMC) aids with career planning and preparation.
“Having those individualized conversations with the CMC is really important because that can shape the types of classes you should take during the MSF program, potentially saving yourself from wasted time and energy later on,” Eyre said.
Leveraging Opportunities & Launching Your Career
Before students enter the MS Finance program in the fall, there is a summer curriculum that streamlines the intensive, one-year program with some pre-preparation work and training.
“We have the MS Finance Career Curriculum, which is an online curriculum that students will do prior to even starting the program in order to set themselves up for success,” Eyre said. “We do a lot of summer work on the front end to get all students solidly prepared—we help them understand academic expectations as well as best practices for networking and interviewing.”
The connections made through this process are invaluable sources of information and insight for students.
“When MS Finance students move to Nashville, the CMC facilitates connections with MSF alumni, which are a big part of the summer preparatory work,” Eyre said. “The networking and informal conversations with alumni ensure that every student starts on the same page when it comes to the proper preparation.”
Leading up to students launching their careers in corporate finance, Eyre explains the optimal approach to maintain the professional momentum towards success.
“For students to be able to articulate why they are pursuing finance, it is important that they connect with others in that field that they already know or have met through our alumni network,” Eyre said. “Capitalize on the momentum of reflecting on your purpose by connecting with peers at a similar level who might be able to paint a full picture about corporate finance, as well as senior executives who have valuable insight.”
With these tools and resources, students should be able to determine what their focus areas and main motivators are, as well as utilize the MS Finance curriculum and alumni network to set up a successful career in the world of corporate finance.