Q: My husband recently graduated from the University of Chicago with an M.B.A. He originally planned to move into a research or analysis role in investment banking or private equity. He is currently in compliance for a major investment bank, which he finds extremely dull. When he started the part-time M.B.A. program three years ago, there were more jobs than the school could fill. But now, every job he would want demands several years of previous experience in investment banking.
How can he communicate the skills he has beyond what he’s done in his job? Would an internship next summer be a good option? Is there a point at which his degree will be so old it no longer counts at all?
A: It is a tough finance market right nowâ€”but not just for recent M.B.A. grads. Even the people with the “several years of experience” you mention are finding that the competition for investment banking and private-equity positions is fierce. And, trying to make a leap from compliance is especially challenging in a market like this one. “It’s not going to be easy,” says Steve Fletcher, a managing director at GCA Savvian Advisors in San Francisco. “Compliance work is really back office, and it’s very difficult to move from the back office to the front office.”
There are alternative avenues your husband can pursue to increase his chances of getting hired, say the experts. Most importantly, he’ll want to make contact with the alumni network at his alma mater. As a graduate of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Mr. Fletcher says he is always happy to talk to fellow alumni. “I feel a certain loyalty because of my education,” he says. “It’s hard for me to believe that Chicago people wouldn’t do the same.”
By leveraging Chicago’s alumni network now, your husband might discover opportunities at smaller firms where he would have a better chance of making inroads, says Constance Melrose, managing director at eFinancialCareers North America. “His enthusiasm about the work itself and desire to make a contribution can shine better in a smaller environment,” she says. “And in a smaller environment, people are often called upon to wear more than one hat. He should try to position his compliance experience as having prepared him to identify, analyze and manage risk.”
(Hyo’s Note – this site from Barron’s has a pretty good online listing of jobs in the financial sector.)
If he is unable to land a position through networking, an internship could prove valuableâ€”even if it doesn’t happen until next summer. Many investment banks rely on their summer internship programs as feeders into their associate positions, according to Lara Berkowitz, associate director for finance careers at London Business School. “It will be a great addition to his CV and in some rare cases, the summer internship may convert into an immediate permanent job at the end of the summer if there is a business need,” she says.
Your concern about his degree getting so old that it doesn’t count is unfounded, according to Janice Bryant-Howroyd, CEO of staffing firm AppleOne. “Change in business climates, technologies and globalization make it necessary to get more education or to refresh skills,” she says. “But education is one of the most lasting values you can bring to an employer or to the world of business as an entrepreneur.”
Write to ELIZABETH GARONE at [email protected]
From the Wall St. Journal Online.