4 Tips for Pursuing a Career in Finance
Finance is a highly competitive and demanding career, but if a job in the industry is your goal and you are hard-working and ambitious, you can succeed and potentially make a great deal of money along the way. The tips below can help you give yourself the best chance possible to achieve your dream.
Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
You will almost certainly need a bachelor’s degree to get your foot in the door. Later, you may need additional educational qualifications as well, including an MBA, but for now, focus on a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field. Do your research carefully and try to get into the best-regarded school that you can since the top companies will choose interns and employees from these high-rated universities. Some of them may be expensive, but keep in mind that you can supplement federal financial aid, scholarships and loans with a student loan from a private lender. These can be relatively easy to apply for and provide you with options that fit your budget.
Get an Internship
An internship will be key in giving you some of the skills and connections that will help get you into the kind of job that you want after college. You can pick up internships during the summer, and many will either pay or offer academic credit. What you do on the job may not be the most exciting, but have a good attitude and learn what you can about the way the business operates. If you can get more than one internship, try to work in several different areas to give yourself the broadest base of experience possible.
Learn the Language
You should also try to learn as much as you can about the language and concepts of the finance world. Keep an eye on the stock market and learn what the terms used in discussing it mean. Make it a point to read a major financial publication regularly, even daily. Use a trading simulator to start learning about how to construct a portfolio and to stay on top of the market. You might even consider seeing a financial counselor to get an idea of how professionals in this sector interact with clients and the style of services, and jobs, that are available. In addition, read books and websites and listen to podcasts about finances, investing and related topics. You don’t have to have this level of knowledge to get an entry-level position, but it will help you stand out against other candidates.
Get Additional Credentials
It is a good idea to eventually get additional credentials, but in most cases, you should wait until you have been out of school for a few years. There are some types of credentials you can earn online while others will require a more formal setting. Most good MBA programs will not admit you without a certain amount of work experience, and there are certification programs that require this as well. In many cases, you will benefit more from these programs with that experience behind you.
Waiting a few years also helps ensure that you will have a better idea of what you want your career trajectory to look like and will help you make the right choice. In addition to or instead of an MBA, you could work toward becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst. A possibility while you are still in school or just after you graduate is taking the Securities Industries Essentials Exam, which shows that you have entry-level knowledge.