Our Stories

Equipping Herself for a Competitive Landscape

Sarah Davis found a formula for standing out in finance

Sarah Davis
Associate, Investment Relations, PJT Partners, NY

Vanderbilt MS Finance 2017

As one of their hobbies, Sarah Davis and her mother have visited more than 30 countries. In the process, Sarah has learned a few things about assessing the local landscape.

When she applied that same skill to the finance industry — which she had made her next destination — Sarah saw a landscape that was highly competitive. “When recruiters interview for these positions, every advantage matters,” she says. “So I knew that if I went in with an advanced degree from a top university, I would be able to stand out.”

At Vanderbilt, Sarah valued the opportunity to take classes from the school’s renowned finance faculty — “from the creator of the VIX Fear Gauge to one of [Federal Reserve Chair] Janet Yellen’s own students,” she says. “Being able to customize my curriculum was a huge advantage when I was interviewing for research positions. I was able to demonstrate my interest and ability in corporate valuation and financial modeling.”

But what also stood out for her were opportunities beyond the classroom instruction. “For example, she says, “Going on Superdays (for job interviews) in Houston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Jacksonville really helped me break out of my shell.”

Sarah also enjoyed alumni panels that brought former MSFs from all different areas of finance to talk about how to advance in their careers and to offer advice and support to students. “We have alumni in every area of finance all over the country,” says Sarah, “and they are always willing to help however they can.”

The Career Management staff exemplified for Sarah what made Vanderbilt different. “They guided me through the recruitment process,” she says. “Coming from a huge state university, I wasn’t used to this kind of one-on-one training, and I had no idea how valuable it could be.”

Fun Fact: A musician with 10 years of classical training on the clarinet (and who plays the flute and piano for fun), Sarah has performed with a marching band in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA.

“Being able to customize my curriculum was a huge advantage when I was interviewing for research positions.”