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Wall Street provides opportunity

Megan Doyle | Friday, September 16, 2011

“If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere,” 2009 graduate Henry Shine said, perhaps channeling his inner-Frank Sinatra.

In the current market, these words could not be truer for an investment banking analyst like Shine.

Shine, who studied finance and Mandarin Chinese, began his job at Morgan Stanley in August as headlines across the nation warned of tumult in the stock market. Despite the unpredictable Wall Street trading floors, Shine called his job “a great entryway into any sort of business.”

“It can’t hurt you having it on your resume,” he said. “[This job] is a way to get my foot in the door now that would set me up for success down the road … I think [New York] is the best place to launch a career.”

Shine is not the only Notre Dame graduate on Wall Street.

Bob Rischard, assistant director at the Career Center, counsels students who are looking into careers in financial services. He said 120 members of the Class of 2009 are currently working on Wall Street.

Despite economic tumult over the summer, Rischard predicted that graduating students interested in Wall Street jobs would not suffer the consequences.

“I think our hirings for this year should be on par with what we had last year,” Rischard said.

About a third of those students took jobs in bulge bracket investment banks, like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

“All [of the top nine bulge bracket firms] hired a Notre Dame undergrad in the past year,” Rischard said.

One change in the industry, however, is what Rischard termed “optionality.” Companies no longer expect new hires to remain at the firm for more than a few years, he said, and students often look at their first job out of college as a stepping stone rather than a long-term position.

“Most firms in financial services as well as most firms that recruit at Notre Dame have a pretty long-term view of the world,” Rischard said. “It really is a changing world that students have these days. Most investment banks hire you with the mentality that you’re going to be there two or three years, so they are always going to need more hires.”

When searching for post-graduate employment, Rischard said students look more for companies that can help them build a basic skill set for future jobs in other business sectors.

“I’m not sure [job security is] something the average student wants as much now as they did 10 years ago,” he said.

Even if students do not want to spend an extended period of time on Wall Street, Rischard said they need to love their work.

“You need to show a curiosity [for the markets] by watching “Money Line,” reading the Wall Street Journal, reading periodicals online,” Rischard said. “You do have to have a passion for the markets.”

Clubs like the Wall Street Club, Finance Club or the Student International Business Council also build experience for undergraduates in business.

Internships are also critical for students who want to be on Wall Street after graduation, Rischard said. Goldman Sachs, another bulge bracket investment bank, hired 20 Notre Dame interns last year.

“In investment banking, more than any other field, there is a huge lead-time with hires,” he said. “That huge lead-time is derived from internships between junior and senior year. It is critical that you do intern in the field to show interest and passion in that sector.”

Shine said he completed an internship in Chicago after his junior year, and he connected with other Notre Dame graduates at Morgan Stanley through the Alumni Association.

“I talked to as many people as I could,” Shine said. “It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know.”

His position at Morgan Stanley will help build his skills in the business, Shine said. He agreed with the Rischard’s “optionality” mindset.

“It’s definitely a two-way street,” Shine said. “I could stay for just two years like a lot of people do, or I could work here for the rest of my life.”

While he is not convinced he will be in investment banking throughout his career, Shine said he is undecided about where he wants to go from Wall Street.

“I would like to do something much more entrepreneurial, something on my own terms,” he said.

Whatever the future holds for Wall Street or for his career, Shine said his current job has been a learning experience.

“It’s really interesting work,” Shine said. “There’s a big difference between going to a finance class 50 minutes a day, three days a week, and working full time … It’s not like reading a textbook. You are learning while you are doing something useful for your company.”