Newbie to Real World, AF, and CFA exams

Couple of questions for the regulars: 1. I am a new graduate with BS in Econ from a state school with no relative work experience and so so GPA. Based on the many threads that I’ve read on AF, my chances are slim in the finance world especially with today’s job market. I guess the best chances I can get is to try to acquire a “back office” (I just learned the term from AF stalking) job and get my foot in the door and hopefully climb up the proverbial ladder. I know this is quite broad but are there any advice for a clueless and possibly hopeless entrant? 2. How to dress to interview if I am lucky enough to get one? I know this may be a very simple question for many of you since this is a male dominated field and forum. However, I am the other .0001%. Women’s clothing has so many more styles and what not to it, pants, skirts, do I HAVE to wear the whole suit…and the god forbidden panty hose - do people still wear them in the office?! YUCK. 3. (I’m sure there is a thread for this question already…) Are the Scalla and Scwhester or whatever they are called all they’re cracked out to be? Granted the CFAI curriculum can get redundant and the 6 books for just level 1 is a lot of reading, I feel that it is condensed enough because just the FSA, Econ, Corp Finance, and Quant materials were what most of my undergrad consisted of. To read even more condensed versions seem kind of silly if I don’t cover/refresh on the background and theory? I am currently comfortable with the curriculum alone, is it necessary to read third party materials? 4. Interviews. I suck. Period. How do I improve? I recently had an interview, for I guess a “back office” job at T Rowe, and I froze! Any other advice not related to the questions are appreciated. CT

Also, any help in the Dallas market?

Welcome! I wouldn’t settle on back office, try hard for a analysis role or the like. Operations just sucks and it is not an easy jump out. Learn Excel and financial modeling. These are often key requirements for decent analyst jobs. Schweser/Stalla - For many of us who have a finance background, these tools help us allocate our time better. There is nothing wrong with reading the curriculm. Some of us simply prefer to study more efficient. Interview help; I used Interviewing for Dummies, it was a decent read. Otherwise search ‘numi’ on this board as he has a bottomless vault of interviewing tips. No harm in asking on the board either. - See if you can get involved doing anything for/with the CFA Society. Many society members are eager to help and it would serve as a great place to network. I’ve found this true of my midwest society.

Are there any specific subfields in finance that you’re looking for? What about interviewing is giving you trouble? Also, a great way to make contacts and to get comfortable in an interview setting is to contact alumni from your university in the field you want to get into. Also, I grew up in Fort Worth and know a little bit about the Dallas marker so I might be able to give you a little direction there. Feel free to shoot me an email.

dont let your degree or experience hinder you, go for what you want. Back office is crap. Yes the market it tough now but just apply, apply, apply. Look everywhere and talk to everyone. wear one of those womens suits…no tie. I think those look classy, I want the woman to be professional and seem like an ass-beater, not some chick in a skimpy skirt or something. With that said, after you have the job coworkers then appreciate the skirt! I use Schweser, its good. CFAI curriculum if you have the time or dont have a background, I used it to brushup on areas I felt foggy on after going thru Schweser. Interview help-I always run thru the interview with myself the morning of. Faking conversations in my head, answering questions, visualizing everything. Sounds dumb, but going in I already feel like I have answered the questions in my head and seen the responses so I am more comfortable sitting there. No help in Dallas, cuz I “dont mess with texas”

You guys are quick! As to what specific area of finance I want to go into, I am really open since I am not sure what is what, what I will be good at, and where I can get my foot in the door among other factors. How do I go about getting an analysis role? All the postings I’ve seen for them requires certain experiences and when I see it I just second guess myself. And the Stalla and etc are expensive. I’m paying for exam 1 out of own pocket and that hurted. It still hurts. The interview with T Rowe was a phone interview, I just froze when the interviewer asked me ANY questions. I wanted to shove my head down the collar of my shirt cause I swear I forgot how to speak English. It was also my first “real” interview. I think my problem is not not knowing what to do but that I haven’t had any practice. I went to a commuter school and I was never in touch with any resources there because I always left school the minute class was over. I am sure they have a very good alumni system. However, I am currently in another state on a whim and this new state just happens to suck. That is why I am thinking about going back to Dallas. I MISS IT! And the job market in Dallas is way better than where I am at. The sad thing is after reading 39490289820 posts on this forum, I am getting more pessimistic.

Well I’ve only been looking for a month and I am getting real depressed. I know that a lot of people even go through 6-12 months of unemployment/job searching. I don’t think I can do that. I am thinking of so many ways to get out of whatever situation it is I am in the minute I wake up everyday. And the skirt thing. How sexist and good to know…it is an advantage sometimes. I also tried the interview in head - did not work apparently.

Being one of the few women on this site, here’s what I would do … When I first started out looking for a job in finance, the bookstore was my best friend. I would suggest reading some books about jobs in finance. They mention the pros/cons, career paths, salaries and explanations for each job out there. At least this would help you to narrow down what exact fields you are interested in pursuing. As for interviewing, I agree with ditchdigger2CFA. Any books about interviewing like “Interviewing for Dummies” would be a big help. You can prepare yourself for the basic questions asked in most interviews. Tips on how to dress for an interview: I would always wear a suit if you’re after a job in the financial market. Jacket and pants/skirt. If you choose to wear a skirt, as I do, make sure it’s not too short. Stockings/panty hose are not always a must. It really depends on the climate, season, age or even company policy. I’ve worked in Florida and no one really wears them due to the heat, but in the northern states some choose to wear them during the cooler months. You can typically get away with not wearing them when you’re younger. I have also heard about company’s who require them. I would check with HR once you are hired. And I would always wear closed toed shoes. Hope this helps!

Right now I’m leaning towards investments/asset management. Don’t know how broad that is. But I definitely still want to leave my door open for other opportunities. I feel that there’s many many things I can potentially do and might not know about since I’m pretty uninformed with the industry as well as other industries as a 22 yr old. But thanks, I will definitely be hitting Borders later to research just to procrastinate my studying for a couple hours if I must. =) Oh yeah, as a petite girl it is reallllllly hard to find a suit that fits. And the rare chance that I do, I look at the price tag and run for my dear life. Damn that Goodwill. And I guess some good news. I got a call back from TRowe for live interview but I declined cause I have made up my mind to move back to Texas. The irrational spontaneous decisions of a young person. =(

I started in the asset management field right out of school and have been there for 4 years now and love it. Got to have thick skin though as the area is all men like most. Best advise I can give is to have a sense of humor and don’t take anything personally. I’m with you on the quest to find suits that fit for a good price. My issue is the opposite … 5’10" … Good luck with everything! Let me know if you ever have any questions …

If you are Dallas area you might see if Highland Capital is hiring on any analyst positions…they are often more willing to give others a shot that wouldnt normally fit into an analyst role elsewhere (at least you have a shot at interviewing anyway). Granted, hear it is an awful place to work, brutal on the hours, underpaid, etc…but maybe worth a look.

Wear a suit always for interviews. Many times the person interviewing you will be in casual business attire, but that is okay. The best way to get good at interviews is through interview experience. Get tons of interivews lined up for even jobs you don’t necessarily want, but are just interested in. Network through the interviews for more interviews.

Just be yourself in interviews. If you don’t know something just say that you don’t know but are a fast learner and very interested in the position. If they think you are capable they will hire you.

Thank god I have an odd sense of humor. Aren’t most entry level jobs long hours and underpaid? I guess long hours is expected in finance field and we are never satisfied with our pay. Right now, I just want some experience and enough cash to pay for gas to get to work and to buy that first couple of work pants. And maybe in a couple of months start paying off my students loans if I don’t make it back to school. As to past office positions or interships that most college students have or should have, I lack that. Most of what I’ve done for work is waitressing (should’ve networked there!) and 3 bored months as a bank teller which made me go back to waitressing for the money, flexible hours, and customers. Is that gonna lower my entry level chances even more since it “looks” like I lack computer and some professional skills. Also, I really want to go back to grad school eventually. I took my GMAT as a freshman in college and did okay on it (low 600s?). Should I retake? I am not looking to go to top tier or anything. Also, should I put off MBA till I get enough work experience or should I go for it maybe in Spring or Fall '09 after I (hopefully) pass my Level 1 in December 08? Or should I wait longer and do Executive or Cohort MBAs and maybe have chances to enter better MBA programs due to experience, potential CFA designation, and more wisdom? By the way, how old are you pros and how did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to be in whatever field it is you’re in and how old were you when you took that path?

I’d have to see a pic to advise on interview apparel.

ha ha

like sally jesse raphael

chitasan - I can definitely relate. I’m a senior at UMich and majoring in Economics, also trying to break into a field in finance. Problem is I don’t have the related working experience (no internship, so I signed up for the CFA Level 1 in December) and while I think my GPA is good, it’s not at the 3.5 minimum cutoff that I see so often for many of these jobs. And like you, also am hoping to land a job in Texas (originally from Dallas). It’s was really tough for me to even find an internship this past summer (only had two interviews despite applying/emailing so many places), so I imagine it’s only going to be that much harder looking for now a full time position. The suggestions I got from posters on this site was don’t focus so much on bulge bracket firms, rather, try and break into a smaller, boutique firm. Personally, as of late, I’ve been more interested in the equity/investment research field, it seems like more intriguing work (at least, relatively). IBanking seems to be a popular field because of the higher pay, but I think the hours are just way too brutal, even for finance. Consulting is another field that I’ve read liberal arts majors have a shot at getting into, though I don’t like what I hear about their interviews. Feel free to email me at if you want to talk further about career fields, recruiting, etc., and I can hopefully help with whatever I do know.