Hello everyone, I just joined this forum and this is my first time posting. I’m a junior studying CS and Stats at Cal, I should be looking at a GPA of ~3.4-3.5. I am currently a CFA Level I candidate(exam in Dec). My long term career goal is to become a financial analyst on the buy side and eventually become a portfolio manager.
I have an internship offer from Blackrock to work in their Aladdin group. For those of you who don’t know what Aladdin is(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BlackRock#Aladdin_Trading_Network), it’s their in-house investment management platform that they lease out to other companies.
Currently, I’m debating whether or not to accept this offer. On the plus side, it’s a job with Blackrock, a brand name in the financial industry and I might get to meet people who are in analyst roles. However, it is after all a back-office position and I obviously won’t be getting the opportunity to analyze equties/assets etc. and more importantly I’m worried it might cause employers to pigeonhole me as a “back-office tech guy”. I have 2 main questions.
Should I accept the offer or not? (I have no other outstanding offers currently).
How can a junior in college like me really prepare himself to land an analyst role with a buy side firm? I have to admit I have not really been big on any extracurricular activities at Cal but I’m hoping to change that for the next 3 semesters I will be in school by participating more in the student run investment club.
Blackrock sounds like a good little internship although I totally understand your fear of being pigeonholed as a back-office guy…
In my opinion if you want to get into the buy, you’ll need to prove yourself as a good stock picker and an expert in a particular field. Whilst at college you should be trading stocks, picking up alpha, understanding which funds, PE firms are doing well…That will give you some leverage on your CV when you get to interview at a buyside firm.
If you’ve got no other offers of an internship then Blackrock is certainly something you should seriously consider. You can even speak to your boss about doing something on the Buy the next semester as that where your real interest lies…
Your CS degree is a blessing and a curse. Its a great skill to have these days, but if you’re not interested in becoming a developer, you need to downplay it.
I would bet that the blackrock job is high paying and could make you a good candidate for some quant or risk related jobs in the future. But if your goal is investment management, you probably should try to get a more traditional finance internship, even if it pays less. There is always the investment banking route, and people willing to spend 2-3 years as an analyst rarely do poorly in life.
There are a million IM firms on the west coast, and you went to a good school. In my opinion you’re a good candidate for fixed income, but that might not appeal to you. If you’re interested in equities, maybe try to get into a group that does smart beta, unique index sampling etc. They would appreciate the CS and math background, and once you have some strong finance experience, you might be able to transition into a stock picking role. Just an idea, and remember that an internship at Blackrock is still very impressive.
A few west coast companies I can think of that you might not know:
Hey guys, thanks for the advice. I have a few ideas to keep myself busy with for the near future. For now, I think I’ll be accepting the internship offer. Currently, I’m working on writing articles for equity research sites like Seeking Alpha etc and participating more in stock pitiching competitions in school and elsewhere, I will try my level best to get a traditional finance internship/job next semester! I had actually been investing since high school but I took a long break once I went to college(regrettably) but I just opened a brokerage account again and trying to get back in the game.
I will let you guys know how it goes in my internship and whether I managed to network with portfolio management folks!