The 5 Best Resources for Students Who Desire Success in Finance

June 19, 2013 ·

Students that choose finance and accounting for their career path are taking on a challenge. From getting that MBA to scoring a competitive internship, you’ll learn early on that competition is fierce and the playing field constantly evolving. Fortunately, there are a few great resources that can give students in finance an edge.


Obviously, it’s key to start with a great education, although the definition of that can vary and there’s plenty of gray area. Ideally, students aim for admittance to a school that is widely respected by employers, whether it has a great reputation in general, or (even better) the business school within the university is particularly admired.


Even for students who graduate from second-tier schools, however, how they perform can outweigh the name of the school on their diploma. Here are five ways to optimize the resources available to you.


1. The student HR service center


Every university has a human resources service center for students with one goal: to provide the best employment and training opportunities. Get over there during your freshman year and research potential work-study positions or internships in the field of finance.


It doesn’t matter how entry-level the job may be; even sorting mail for a giant like Merrill Lynch can lead to a glowing recommendation on that company’s letterhead. Make the most of every opportunity, and remember that they can begin even before college.


2. Who you know


Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to get a foot in the door, and this means working on your social skills. Join networking clubs, say yes to any invitation remotely related to the field, and don’t be shy about asking about opportunities.


The right connection can move a person to the front of the line when internship season rolls around. This might not seem fair, but the world of business doesn’t always play totally by the rules (and what industry, one might ask, does?). It’s wise to learn that lesson now.


3. Campus and city-wide clubs


Getting to know people starts with joining organizations and being active in them. You might find a finance club on campus or a young accountants club hosted by a local nonprofit organization. Start researching what’s available and take advantage of the resources in your area.


Whether the activity acquaints you with future colleagues or establishes a mentoring relationship, this can be an invaluable step when it comes to launching a successful career.


4. Plan for graduate school now


Whether you’re a freshman or a junior, today is the best day to start planning ahead for graduate school. Undergraduate education counts for something, but what really interests potential employers is an applicant from a top-tier graduate program.


From grades to experience, achievements to personal essays, students need to have a comprehensively competitive application, and you would be wise to start building one now. At the same time, nailing fellowships and scholarships is also a big challenge, so start researching them right away.


5. In-house corporate experience


Many corporations offer finance internships and fellowship programs to promising students, and not all of them are in the finance industry. For example, Ford offers a stellar opportunity for finance majors that includes entry-level jobs which can be coordinated with a graduate program. With openings in accounting, product pricing, risk management, and a host of other finance-related careers, a giant like Ford is a great place to get some real-world experience before you graduate.


There are plenty of resources out there; the trick is finding the right one and pursuing it. College is challenging enough, so many students don’t believe they have the time or energy to dedicate to further work outside the classroom.

This can be a significant tactical error, because college and grad school is the ideal time to prepare for the real world. And you can be certain that if you aren’t doing it, some of your classmates are.


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