Path to prestigious job may require a prestigious college degree

by Grace

A growing number of employers say a degree from a prestigious college counts less than it once did. But among elite finance and management-consulting firms—which offer some of the highest starting salaries for new graduates—an alma mater still matters. That puts students from less-selective schools at a disadvantage, career-services officers and students say.

A tale of two students demonstrates how the path to prestigious Wall Street jobs is easier when the starting point is an Ivy League school.

To land a summer job on Wall Street this year, Fairfield University junior Matthew Edgar sent 300 emails, made dozens of phone calls and several networking trips to New York banks from the Connecticut campus.

Darwin Li had a more direct route: The Princeton University junior applied online for positions and attended campus information sessions where company recruiters walked him through the application process and the firm’s culture.

The preferred schools vary depending on different career paths, but for Wall Street “they tend to include Ivy League schools and a handful of other elite institutions, such as Stanford University”.  Other careers have their own list of preferred schools, so the message to students with specific job goals is to do your research.

Students who do not attend preferred schools are not shut out completely, but they have to work harder.

For students at nontarget schools, the trick is finding a way into that pool. Without recruiters on campus, they must initiate a blitz of emails, calls and messages through networking sites like LinkedIn to find a banker or consultant willing to flag their application to recruiters.

Related:  If you want a job at an elite firm . . .

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Lindsay Gellman, “How 300 Emails Led to a Summer Job on Wall Street”, Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2015.

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