About Banking and Finance
• Frequently Asked Questions
"Financial services" and "investment banking" are broad terms that are sometimes used
interchangeably; both encompass the business of issuing, trading and selling stocks and bonds
and/or providing financial advisory and asset management services.
A brief overview of the different areas within financial services:
Within any corporate organization, controllers manage a company's internal finances, the "real
guts of the financial function." Treasurers are focused on a company's external finances, dealing
with financial markets and institutions and the "glitz" of strategic planning.
Organizations that are completely financial, such as commercial and investment banks, and
money management firms, include areas of corporate finance, investment analysis, portfolio
management, trading, mergers and acquisitions, private equity investing, and institutional and
For an excellent outline of the responsibilities and demands of specific financial services jobs,
consult the Harvard Business School Career Guide: Finance, available in the Cornell Career
Services Library. The Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook
http://stats.bls.gov/oco/home.htm also contains information on financial services and the state of
the hiring market for Finance Managers.
Are you interested in this career path? A great in-depth, insider perspective on investment
banking is available in So, You Want To Be an Investment Banker, part of the Industry Insider
series produced by Wet Feet Press. This series is also available in the CCS Library (for browsing
and note-taking only, no copying allowed!). The Insider's look at investment banking reveals a
field that is "intensely competitive, action-oriented, and lucrative," demanding someone who is
interested in "fast-paced, deal-oriented work, at ease with numbers and analysis, a type-A
personality, and doesn't mind putting their personal life on hold for the sake of their job."
Still sound good? The next step is finding a good match between an organization and you, the
future financial analyst. Both the Harvard Business School Career Guide and the Industry Insider
have descriptions of the various individual investment banks and financial service companies.
The CCS Library also has a large collection of company literature. To research different
companies while on campus, check out Employer Information Sessions and On-Campus
Some of which may be available in A&S Career Services or the Cornell Career Services Library
(103 Barnes Hall)
• Harvard Business School Career Guide: Finance
• The Industry Insider: So, You Want To Be an Investment Banker?
• Financial Yellow Book
• Forbes 500: Largest U.S. Industrial Corporations
• 100 Best Companies to Work for in America
Tapes or CDs such as:
• Working on Wall Street: Three Analysts from JP Morgan
• Finding a Career In Banking and Finance That's Right For You
• Women on Wall Street panel
• Wall Street 101: Merrill Lynch's Anatomy of an IPD
• Case Study: Chase Manhattan/Chase Securities
• Lehman Brothers: Case Study of I Banking Transaction
• How to Succeed in the Job Interview: Advice From Employers
Specialized programs such as these are held regularly; check the CCS and A&S
Career Services Upcoming Events Calendars for future dates.
Company information sessions on campus. Nothing is more valuable than meeting
people who work in the field, and finding out firsthand from employees about a company.
Check presentations in the fall especially, when most companies offer their information
Programs such as Wall Street 101. Again, check the Calendar for future dates.
Career fairs, both on and off campus, including the annual Career Fair in September.
Company Web pages, such as those for JP MorganChase, Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney ,
etc.... You can find the company on Yahoo's extensive list of investment banks. Also
check out geographic area Webpages, such as the NYC Link which you can find the
NYC Business to Business Directory.
On-line job listings such as The Career Index.
Fortune’s webpage includes a Career Resource Center.
Information on MBAs can be found at the GMAT website.
Annual reports from banks and financial services companies
Periodicals including the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes, Fortune,
• House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, by
William D. Cohan, 2009
• The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres and Co., by William D.
• Liar's Poker, by Michael Lewis: Wall Street during the '80's.
• Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, by Bryan Burrough & John
Helyar: Inside story of the largest takeover in history.
Networking!: friends, relatives, friends of relatives, relatives of friends, ... It is "very
worthwhile to get a firsthand perspective–people love to help and you can learn so much
by asking questions."* –Quotes are from '91 Cornell economics majors, responding to
the 1997 "Five-Years Out" Survey.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do firms look for when they are selecting candidates?
Undergrads from all majors are recruited for financial services, but finance, economics,
and business majors do have an advantage. Why? Because their choice of major
immediately indicates something important to employers: that they are interested in
subjects which are essentially the workings of a financial services company. Employers
want to know why you want to go into finance and why you want to work for their
organization specifically. If you aren't an economics major, you must find a way to
demonstrate your aptitude for and enjoyment of quantitative and analytic thinking and
reasoning, and your enthusiasm for the subject of finance. "Understanding how financial
services institution makes money and how it is organized to achieve its goals is the key to
getting these types of jobs."*–Class of '91 Cornell economics major
If I'm not an economics major, what classes should I take?
Talk to faculty advisors in the Economics or AEM Departments . Some basics: micro,
macro economics, finance, accounting, statistics, money and credit, investments. Include
those courses in a "Relevant Coursework" section on your resume.
How can I demonstrate my interest in financial services?
Join a student group like the Cornell Economics Society or Business Society, or the
Cornell Investment Club. Serve as treasurer of another organization. Develop some great
hands-on business experience by working at a place like Student Agencies. The Cornell
Extern Program offers a wonderful opportunity to learn about career fields and gain some
experience by shadowing Cornell alumni in their workplaces for a day to a week over
How can I show my interest in a specific company?
It's easy, you've been doing it the whole time you've been at Cornell: Research. Research.
Research. Read about the company in the previously mentioned publications, look for
recent news stories on the company, find the company's webpage (you can link to that
from the Cornell CareerNet job description, or find the company on Yahoo's extensive
list of investment banks) and find out what their philosophy is and what their specialties
are. Then, incorporate that research into a well written cover letter.
"Prepare and focus on a few companies–learn about their past performance, future
prospects, their areas of expertise."*–Class of '91 Cornell economics major
How can I get a summer internship in finance?
Getting a summer internship is a great way to get to know a company. Many major
investment banks come to campus to recruit for summer interns, and additional
internships are posted on Student Jobs and Internships. You can also get creative and try
to Develop Your Own Summer Internship. Don't forget the most basic job search
strategy, however: look locally at financial services companies in your area. You can find
these in the yellow pages. A summer job does not have to be a JP Morgan internship to
give you great experience in banking. Any job where you can work with balance sheets
(volunteer your accounting skills at a local non-profit organization), analyze data, learn
about banking or finance will be a great experience.
What should I do to prepare for the interview?
In addition to researching the company and the job description, you must be able to
communicate your interest in and enthusiasm for finance and that specific company. The
Industry Insider recommends that you be able to answer the following questions:
What exactly is an investment bank and what does it do?
What would you like most about the work and what would be a challenge?
What did the stock market do last week and what do you think that means?
Most of all in preparation, ask yourself "why am I doing this?"*– Class of '91
Cornell economics major
Interviewing workshops are held throughout the year, so check the Calendar for
Are there lifestyle issues associated with working in finance?
Investment banking involves long hours, stress and often great uncertainty. The Industry
Insider tells you to prepare for spending "hours hunched behind computers, poring over
financial statements and churning out spreadsheet after spreadsheet" and that you
"shouldn't go into banking only for the money...to survive, much less to do well, in I-
banking, you'll need to like the work itself." If you think you will like the work, then
consult the National Association of Colleges and Employers bi-annual Salary Survey
(can be found in the "General Job Search" section of the CCS Library) for average
starting offers. Salaries vary depending on geographic location, the size of the company,
and other factors, so keep that in mind when you think about offers.
Do investment banks pay for your MBA?
It depends on the company. A typical financial analyst path is to work for two years, after
completing the organization's training, and then pursue an MBA. Some companies will
pay for the degree, some in full, some in part; some have contingencies such as returning
to work for them after receiving your MBA.
* The quotes in this section are from '91 Cornell economics majors, responding to the
1997 "Five-Years Out" Survey which you can read on-line at: arts.cornell.edu/career ->