…or How do I begin a career in Finance?
For many graduates, embarking on a career in finance can appear a daunting prospect of mammoth proportions. The stigma associated with the sector can put the uninitiated off before they’ve even applied; part of the challenge of beginning a career in finance is wading through all of the misinformation out there to find the nuggets of truth underneath.
Unfortunately, though finance is a highly competitive field of work, there aren’t many trustworthy guides for those who aren’t yet acquainted with the field. Fear not though, just follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way towards making your mark in the career of your choice.
- Research, research, research- Don’t assume that the skills for one area of finance will suit all financial careers! An investment banker’s role and skill set, for example, will be vastly different to those sought out in accounting. Most roles will require a variation of skills such as quick decision making, keen analysis, mathematical capabilities and good communication but it’s well worth seeing which careers prioritise which abilities so you can tailor your CV to your respective field.
- Consider if a career in finance is for you- The benefits of a career in finance are endless, but it’s not for everyone. The hours, especially for those who are just starting, can be long and even the lowest positions are highly competitive. Furthermore, particularly within investment banking, you’ll be dealing with large sums of money and a huge level of responsibility. You’ll need to be able to make informed decisions and to instil a sense of trust in your clients, but you’ll also need to be able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off if things don’t go your way. On the bright side, if you do decide to pursue a financial career, you can expect an interesting and enigmatic career with clear routes of progression and some of the highest starting salaries of any graduate jobs.
- Apply for Internships and Placements- These are highly competitive but incredibly lucrative, giving you experience in the career of your choice and an edge over your competitors. Most internships and placements will primarily be in London, being the hub of Europe’s financial sector, but they can be found up and down the country; the best way to find them is to visit a finance internships listing site. Internships will usually last between a few weeks and two months, whilst placements tend to last much longer and are more heavily structured. The best part about them is that companies often hire from within. If they’re impressed with the work that you do, you have a good work ethic, and they feel you would be a good fit for the company, you could land yourself a great starting job soon enough. Some are even paid, though the salaries vary between firms.
- Search for Graduate Finance Jobs– This might seem obvious but you’d be surprised by the number of people who believe that internships are the only way to get a foot in the door. While internships do help your CV immeasurably, like any other industry, it’s possible to land a job in finance straight out of University. Most will require a good degree, usually at least a 2:1 or 2:2, and you can expect to be learning on the job, but some firms do offer the prospect of gaining a qualification while you work.
- Don’t give up! – Getting your foot in the door of finance can seem like an uphill struggle but try to focus on the positives. If you’ve got the skill set and you want it enough, don’t be put off by a few setbacks or applications that aren’t quite successful. People from all walks of life and backgrounds end up working in the financial sector, and after years of working in the field, the initial fight for a place will seem like a distant memory.
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