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Finance

The information below provides an overview of the finance industry. The intent is to provide you with a path for reaching your career goals. Consider this a step-by-step guide that can be used as a starting point for a career in finance. 

View or print our industry calendar to see a full list of industry-specific programs and events, general workshops, and helpful tips!

Finance Calendar

What is Finance?

In general, the word finance refers to the acquisition and use of money to support the decisions and actions of a person or organization. The field of finance is broad because it encompasses nearly every decision regarding how to use money and what one does with the money that hasn’t been spent or given away.


Finance is both a function and an industry. Most organizations have staff whose job it is to source and manage money, and there are many organizations that provide services to help individuals successfully achieve their financial goals.

Most jobs in finance involve either raising money (“capital”), managing money, or providing advice to those who have money. However, there is an increasing trend in jobs that involve enforcing the laws and regulations that relate to these roles.

The organizations that regularly recruit at universities for entry-level finance positions include large corporations, banks, asset managers, regulatory agencies, and numerous other finance related organizations.

Corporate Finance
Corporate finance is a broad term that is used to describe the various financial decisions undertaken by a corporation. Most corporations will have a specific division that is tasked with managing all aspects of financial operations. Two of the core functions of corporate finance are to acquire and wisely use the financial resources available to the company. The corporate finance team of the organization will develop an operating budget that addresses the monetary needs of the company. In some companies, this division may also conduct mergers and acquisitions or supply information to investors and regulators.

Banking
Individuals need money to make purchases and companies need cash to grow and expand their businesses. The general function of a bank is to act as an intermediary between those who have money (e.g., investors, depositors, etc.) and those who seek it. Commercial bankers lend the money they have to individuals and companies. Investment bankers help companies raise capital by creating securities (e.g., stocks, bonds, etc.) that investors want. Many banks also offer credit cards, and those who support the credit card function may help with underwriting, processing and collecting activities.

Asset Management 
Many banks and insurance companies as well as numerous small businesses offer services to help individuals and organizations invest their money. Asset managers can either be investment managers or financial advisors. Investment managers employ investment strategies for funds from one or more individuals. Financial advisors help investors understand complex securities markets and select investments from a seemingly infinite array of securities. Asset managers may also operate more specialized investment vehicles, such as hedge funds or private equity funds that target high net worth investors and organizations. 

Regulatory Agencies
U.S. regulation is handled at both the state and federal levels. There are regulatory agencies for banks as well as separate agencies for securities, commodities, and insurance. These agencies address privacy, disclosure, fraud prevention, anti-money laundering, anti-terrorism, and consumer lending protection. Regulators include the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC), the Federal Reserve Bank, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), and numerous state level organizations.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
These organizations are neither a part of a government nor a conventional for profit business, and in many cases are tax-exempt. While some are funded by external parties, others are operated primarily by volunteers. Typically, NGOs are organized around specific issues or humanitarian causes.

Finance Information Providers
To make informed investment decisions, financial firms, traders and investors rely on market data that is aggregated by finance information providers. These organizations use information from stock exchanges, broker and dealer desks, and regulatory filings to develop reports for their clients. Data may be gathered on a particular company, industry or type of financial instrument.

Insurance Organizations
Individuals and organizations use insurance to minimize risk to their finances in the case of lost or damaged property, lawsuits, illness or accident, business interruption or premature death. The insurance industry is comprised of people who develop, sell, administrate and regulate policies that ensure against these adverse events. Some companies also offer investment products designed to complement their insurance offerings.

Skill Set

You will need a bachelor's degree. Employers are open to all majors, although they will expect a basic understanding of finance and business. Graduates of liberal arts schools tend to do well in finance because of the critical thinking and communication skills developed throughout their curriculum. Knowledge of accounting concepts is important for many finance functions as well. Career Services offers numerous programs and career advising to help develop these skills outside of the classroom.

Along with your education, you will need the following skills and abilities to be successful in the finance industry:

  • Quantitative Ability: You should be comfortable with numbers and spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel.  
  • Intellectual Capacity & Analytical Skills: Financial decisions often require analysis of complex issues and creative solutions.
  • Work Ethic: Finance positions, banking in particular, often require committing to working a significant number of hours outside of a traditional 40-hour workweek.
  • Competitive Nature: These organizations are attracted to students who have demonstrated their ability to manage multiple priorities, handle pressure well, and enjoy competition, especially student athletes.
Externships, Internships, and Full-Time Opportunities

There are numerous summer internship programs related to finance, many of which lead to full-time offers. Banks in particular offer numerous opportunities through highly structured recruiting programs targeting juniors. Wealth management, financial advisory and small business organizations are more likely to extend summer internship offers to sophomores. Many banks and corporations will also recruit for externship opportunities that target first year and sophomore students, including underrepresented populations.

Salary Expectations

Salaries will vary significantly depending on the sector, the organization, and the geographic region. Click here to view the National Association of Colleges and Employers salary resources. There is not much room for salary negotiation at the entry-point of any career path, and most organizations have benchmarked salaries with their competitors.

Compensation for finance positions often includes a signing bonus and annual bonuses, in addition to starting salaries. As a summer intern, you can expect a comparable, pro-rated salary.

Recruiting Practices

For those interested in a career in finance, it is important to understand the rigorous recruiting process and preparation required to succeed in this field. 

Many finance opportunities posted in SpiderConnect will require that students use résumés in a specific finance template. To use the template (included below), simply open the document, "save as" (insert your file name) and edit the content by just clicking on the appropriate areas. Add additional bullets to each section as necessary. We strongly recommend scheduling an appointment with a career advisor to review your resume.

Finance resume template (Word)



Campus Resources for a Career in Finance

 

Freshman

Sophomore

Junior

Senior

Explore

Alumni Informational Interviews

 

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Finance Society

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Microfinance Club

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X

Professional / Business Fraternities

X

X

X

X

Wellness 090: Career Exploration

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepare

Mock Interview

 

X

X

X

Evening of Etiquette

 

X

X

X

Information Sessions

 

X

X

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Internships

 

X

X

 

Externships

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X

X

 

Interview Workshop

X

X

X

 

Resume Review Workshop

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X

 

 

Training the Street

X

X

X

X

Wellness 090: Life & Career After UR

 

X

X

Connect

Deconstructing Wall St.

X

X

On-Campus Interviews

X

X

X

Q-Camp

X

 

 

Robins Mentoring Program

X

X

X

Spiders in RVA: Finance

X

X

 

Spiders on Wall St. Road Trip

X

X

 

UR Career Expos

X

X

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X

 


 

Campus Resources for a Career in Finance-Defined

Alumni Informational Interviews
Most UR alumni are willing to talk with you and share insights about their industries and career paths via informational interviews. You are strongly encouraged to reach out to alumni directly to schedule a phone conversation or a meeting, especially after meeting alumni at career programs and networking events. 

Deconstructing Wall Street
Students interested in a career in banking or asset management should participate in this one-day seminar to learn about the major areas and career paths in finance from alumni representing prominent firms. As they provide an inside look into the industry, you will learn the skills you need to be successful while making connections for your internship or job search.

Evening of Etiquette
Network with UR alumni to learn how to make a good impression during a business meal. Practice your networking skills as you learn to engage someone in conversation, and yes, even use the correct fork. 

Finance Society
The Finance Society is open to all students without regard to major or class year, and provides exposure to concepts in personal finance, investment and financial market analysis, and professional development. The society sponsors workshops with Career Services, invites relevant speakers, organizes investment games and competitions, leads investment tutorials and offers opportunities to pitch investment ideas.  Students learn the basics of collecting, reading and interpreting financial information with an emphasis on security valuation.  Members have the opportunity to apply for positions in Gateway Capital Management, a student funded and managed investment portfolio.   

Information Sessions
Many employers conduct information sessions on campus. In these sessions, company representatives will provide an overview of their organizations and describe available internships and jobs. Participation in these events is a great way to learn about organizations, job functions, and industries, and provides an opportunity to ask questions and network with professionals. 

Internship/Externship
Internships are opportunities for you to gain hands-on experience in an occupation or profession of interest. Internships are usually 8-10 week experiences during the summer after your sophomore or junior year. Externships, typically 1-2 days, are designed to provide an in-depth introduction to an organization, and can often lead to offers for summer internships.

Interview Workshop
Prepare for the interview process by attending a Career Services sponsored interviewing workshop, where you will hear about the interview process and learn tactics for excelling in a behavioral interview.

Microfinance Club
Microfinance is a type of banking offered to low-income clients who are unable to access the traditional banking system. Members of this club explore and discuss Microfinance organizations and opportunities.  In addition to a spring break trip to Honduras, the Microfinance Club also hosts a variety of events each semester that bring awareness to the benefits of Microfinance.

Mock Interview
When preparing to interview for a specific opportunity, schedule a mock interview with a career advisor to practice and receive constructive feedback.  During a mock interview, an advisor will replicate unique questions and concepts that are covered in interviews for various finance positions.

On-Campus Interviews
Many organizations conduct on-campus interviews for externships, internships, and full-time jobs via Career Services.  These opportunities are posted on SpiderConnect, where you will not only submit your application documents but also, if selected, schedule the interview. 

Professional/Business Fraternities
Join a professional/business fraternity to take advantage of educational, friendship and networking opportunities. Currently, there are two professional/business fraternities on campus: Alpha Kappa Psi and Delta Sigma Pi.

Q-camp
Q-camp, named for Paul B. Queally, R'86, is designed to introduce undergraduate students to practical, real-world exercises in professional and career skills. Held at a nearby conference center, this event is an opportunity for sophomore business students to experience first-hand the social and professional interactions faced in the workplace. Additional information about Q-camp may be found here.

Resume Review Workshops
UR Career Services holds workshops where you can learn about the basics of resume writing and have your resume reviewed.

Robins Mentoring Program
Senior executives from various industries are matched with students of the Robins School who apply to participate in the program.  Mentoring may include:

  • Meeting one-on-one with students to provide general career coaching and advice
  • Assisting in outlining a job search strategy
  • Sharing real world experiences

Additional information about the Robins Mentoring program may be found here.

Spiders in RVA: Finance
Visit the Richmond offices of two financial institutions to experience first-hand the working environments and cultures of these companies and learn about opportunities and the unique recruiting practices in the finance industry.

Spiders on Wall St. Road Trip
This is an annual program designed to expose students to the banking industry. Participants will be able to develop connections with alumni and other career professionals while deepening their knowledge of career path opportunities and recruiting activities. The companies visited will provide structured presentations about their organizations and the career opportunities available.

Training the Street
With one session offered each semester, this program is designed to prepare students for finance interviews by enhancing their financial statement analysis, corporate valuation, investment valuation and Excel skills.

UR Career Expos
The Spider Career Expos allow participants to connect with recruiters and alumni at organizations that recruit at UR and learn about full-time and internship opportunities. The expos are open to students in all majors and class years.

Wellness 090: Career Exploration
Students who complete the Career Exploration course will learn about and practice using Career Services resources; develop self-awareness through assessment tools; learn how to create well-written resumes and cover letters; navigate LinkedIn; complete an informational interview; and develop strategies for selecting a major.

Wellness 090: Life & Career After UR
Students who complete the Life and Careers course will learn about and practice using Career Services resources; increase self-awareness through assessment tools; learn how to create tailored, well-written resumes and cover letters; manage a professional network using LinkedIn; and complete a career development exercise relevant to career goals and needs. 

Online Career Resources


Occupational Outlook Handbook - Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents

WSO: Wall Street Oasis

M&I: Mergers & Inquisitions

Vault Career Guides
Log in via SpiderConnect and select "Industry Research: Vault Career Insider" under "Career Resources"

Finance Events

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