Career Advice

I am about to enter my senior year of college. I don’t go to a great school (Arkansas State), and my GPA also isn’t the best (3.4). I am a finance major and I also have minors in Accounting and Financial Wealth Management.

I’m looking for advice on a career path and specific roles that I could go into. I would prefer to work in an analyst role rather than going into accounting or financial planning.

I have 2 part time jobs at a bank and as a bookkeeper trying to get as much experience as I can. I am also networking with my professors and one has connections with Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, AR which is one of the largest privately held investment banks in the United States.

What are key steps I need to take from here and what specific careers and roles could possibly be available?

Given the school and your GPA, you’re unlikely to catch on as an analyst as any large asset manager right away. You’re doing the right thing by getting internships and networking. That’s really your best path.

If you’re thinking of going the IB route, you don’t really need to do the CFA. But it won’t hurt either.

Graduate and do some entry level stuff for a while. Maybe try to catch on at a big RIA or small asset manager as a jr analyst. Then after a few years (or concurrently) go to grad school and make more connections.

Network, network, network.

Stephens would be good… if not you could try for one of the finance related groups in big 4 accounting or smaller one. Good experience and looks good in the resume. Try to find someone to refer you in.

Thank you for helping.

What are some things I can work on and practice to prepare for a role as an RIA or an asset manager?

Also what schools would be best to get an MBA from considering what my application would look like?

Take the most promising entry level job you’re offered. Do it well. Learn all you can. Look for a better job in 2-3 years. Repeat. By the time you’re 30, the school and GPA will no longer be quite as important. Instead, you’ll be judged on the skills you’ve acquired and what you’ve accomplished while on the job. Good luck!

You can’t know what your full application will look like until you get closer (~age 28), but basically you will look at the US news full time MBA rankings as a reference for how things are viewed. Each school usually lists its median GPA and GMAT score, once you take the GMAT, you can look at how those stack up, realistically a 3.3 puts you in the 15-25 rank, although work experience is a huge factor as well as how you sell your application. In the 15-25 rank, part time begins to make more sense, but you will want to weigh things like geography and how a particular school is viewed within the region you want to work (if two mid-tier schools are ranked similarly, they will likely have more cache in their respective region). Some schools, like Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) allow part time to full time switching (with instructor approval) which is nice. Depending on your goals a more technical masters can also make sense.

theres a calcualtor btw that judges whether mba makes sense financially:

just check the assumptions. the mba in this example gets like a 50% promotion in year 3 while the one without undergrad just never got a promotion.

anyways the typicaly payback period when you remove that assumption is 13 years vs the stated 6 years from the start of mba.

so around age 40 is when you start becoming worth more than the undergrad!

also this assumes that the money you earn doesnt earn any money. which is silly. so the age where you would actually be worth more than the undergrad is even further. if even attainable!

you also should look at when you plan to retire. to determine which route you want to take.

Stephens has a ton of Arkansas alumni. Do you mean analyst in the research sense or banking sense? Since research tends to hire on an as needed basis, you should focus on networking if interested in research. If banking, just apply to go through the formal process

You may want to look into Crews, Ozark, HOMB, and Simmons. They may have finance jobs you are interested in. Also Dallas is near and has some opportunities

Yeah be open to moving to other states, etc. Wherever the jobs are.

If not doing the CFA, I’d look to do one of those financial modeling courses (Wall st prep or BIWS). Shows you how to model out and value a company. Start a simple investment blog and include your analysis.

Security analysis & valuation is the meat of the profession - everything else sits on top of it. Valuable skill.

Good luck.