Different Ways to Get into the Finance Industry
Whether you’re looking for a graduate job or an internship, the finance industry is a competitive field – and something outstanding on your resume may go a long way to helping you gain some prominence amid a sea of other applicants even as it helps you cultivate some experience and knowledge.
Smaller financial institutions, which usually specialise in actuarial work or insurance loss adjustment, generally do not have structured graduate or internship programmes, so one way to ask about available positions is to speculatively send in your resume along with a cover letter.
State who you are and what you are looking for – such as shadowing or work experience – as well as what skills you can lend the company, and relevant experience. While you should include the reason, or reasons, why you chose that particular company, ensure your resume and cover letter are concise and to the point as recruiters may not the luxury of time to go through a protracted application. Moreover, remember to call the company ahead of submitting your application to ask who you should send and address your application to – applications sent to a specific person tend to have a higher chance of being reviewed.
There are numerous benefits to applying speculatively to companies, such as potentially expanding your network, showing a prospective employer your genuine interest, and giving you space to develop your acumen in a specific area of the finance.
Attending or organising a career fair
Career fairs give students and employers a platform to mingle and network while also extending the chance for students and graduates to take a good look at the diverse opportunities and positions available.
On the other hand, there’s actually nothing to stop you if you want to organise your own event. You will likely have to involve the career centre at your university, and it certainly wouldn’t be easy, but the experience would definitely help you in your career search later.
Attending a career fair will get you acquainted with recruiters and help you build your network. But setting up your own event will not only give you those benefits, but will also show prospective employers your commitment to joining the industry, your innovation, and, for certain, your initiative.
Be a treasurer
All university clubs and societies need a treasurer, and if you have stepped into the role, potential employers will be able to infer that you’re not just a team player, but also capable and skilled enough to take the needs of an organisation into consideration while also managing and handling budgets and money. Other skills being a treasurer will instil in you is communication, time management, problem-solving and commercial awareness – skills employers in finance look out for.
All in all, this position will not only grant you experience relevant to the industry that can be added to your resume, but also give you something to talk about in interviews.
Firms in the finance industry always keep an eye out for students with skills in entrepreneurship, and students who set up small businesses while in university usually end up impressing them. Although these ventures are typically not very big, they show prospective employers your commercial awareness, business intellect and ability to budget.
Not only will running a small enterprise give you something interesting to talk about in interviews, you will be able to pick up a number of transferrable skills such as problem-solving, planning and budgeting that will prove useful when you’re looking for a graduate job. In addition, you will be able to make some extra cash for yourself.
Get an overseas internship
Nabbing an internship out of the country for a financial company can give you a head start over other graduate applicants, and for the duration of the application process, the skills and experiences you picked up from your time abroad can definitely set you apart. In addition, employers will be able to perceive your adaptability, confidence and commercial awareness, as well as global and communication skills.
Other benefits of getting a placement overseas are, among other things, expanding your network to include international contacts and employers, and the chance to develop a variety of transferrable skills.
Joining or starting a network
If the opportunity to join a group interested in the finance industry presents itself while you are in university, take it and begin building your network. Otherwise, if you don’t want to restrict your membership to your location or university, you can keep an eye out for groups on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
If you can find no such group, consider starting one of your own. This will not only showcase your initiative to future employers, it also may extend the chance for you to meet other professionals and students you may not have crossed paths with.
Getting the chance to meet and talk with others who share similar interests is just one benefit – the chance to network and show your genuine commitment to a career in the finance industry is another.
Look for a mentor with experience in the area you wish to enter, and who is able to help you form your network even as they counsel and encourage you. They can be a seasoned professional or a graduate trainee, either clueing you in on what skills recruiters and employers want or guiding you through the application process with different employers. Whatever it is you are looking out for in a mentor, you don’t even have to restrict yourself to just one – if you have a few mentors, you will be able to glean more from their different experiences.
However, as professionals in the industry usually keep hectic schedules, you may want to start with your own university alumni or family and family friends. You can even consider social media platforms such as LinkedIn as well as networking events – though if you want to follow this route, express your desire for a mentor and intention to keep in touch.
One of the advantages of having either a mentor or a few mentors is getting the guidance you need from working professionals in the area you want to join first-hand. On top of that, you will also get the opportunity to leverage on their network and pick up some pointers on how to make yourself more attractive to employers.