Preparing for Finance Recruitment

PROVO, Utah – Sep 10, 2021 – Every fall, recruiters from finance firms around the country descend on the BYU Marriott School of Business in hopes of finding their newest interns and future full-time hires. In order to help students prepare for this recruiting process, the Department of Finance offers a unique class: Finance 180: Finance Recruitment Prep Series. The annual winter semester course focuses on giving pre-business students who are interested in the finance program the necessary skills to connect with recruiters, along with exposing students to the different fields within finance so they know which direction to take their careers.

The prep series is offered to pre-finance students during their freshman and sophomore years while they apply to the program. After students are admitted as finance majors, they are required to pick one of five subdisciplines and then complete an internship in that field the summer after their first year in the program. However, many companies, such as JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Dell, and Cisco Systems, come to BYU Marriott in the fall of students’ first year, up to nine months before a perspective internship might start.

BYU Marriott finance career advisor and co-director of the prep series Tracie Laham Jones says connecting with recruiters to secure an internship so far out is important because careers in the finance industry are built on college internships. “An internship is a test period for both the student and the company,” she explains. “A summer internship is a low-risk way to see if the situation is a good fit for both the student and the employer.”

In order to be prepared for recruiters, students need to have an idea of which finance subdiscipline they wish to pursue ahead of the unusual recruiting time period in order to connect with companies in the appropriate field when the time comes. The prep series aims to help pre-finance students have a head start on understanding which finance subdiscipline is best for them. Students in the class gain a better knowledge of each subdiscipline through a series of guest presentations by association presidents from the student-led BYU Finance Society. These presentations, combined with pre-finance students being able to attend Finance Society meetings, helps students connect with a field that resonates with them.

Troy Carpenter, BYU Marriott faculty advisor and the other co-director of the prep series, says there is a connection between students understanding which direction of finance they want to go in and their professional accomplishments. “The prep series helps students gain a vision of what finance areas energize them,” Carpenter explains. “Once a student focuses on a specific area, they are able to more efficiently direct their recruiting efforts of landing an internship and start on the path to a wonderful career.” Laham Jones adds that the class is also a resource for those seeking to learn more about the finance major in general. “The prep series educates potential students on the inclusive and supportive culture of the finance major,” she explains.

After knowing which area of finance to pursue, students still need to be polished, professional candidates when they start having interviews for internships. To that end, Laham Jones, Carpenter, and guest speakers lead the students through a variety of activities. These exercises include writing, résumé building, goal setting, and practice interviews. Laham Jones believes her students can become well-rounded through these class principles in order to land internships and ultimately receive full-time positions.

“I highly encourage students to make the prep series a priority in order to be properly prepared and professionally developed,” Laham Jones adds. “History shows that students have a high rate of placement in internships when they follow our recommended counsel and actions.”

While the prep series may conclude for students before their meetings with recruiters begin, the help that BYU Marriott and the finance department offers does not end with one course. Recruiters who are seeking to connect with students work with BYU Marriott’s Business Career Center (BCC), located in the Tanner Building, to coordinate opportunities to find an intern. The BCC, in conjunction with the finance department, informs students of career fairs, information sessions, and other one-on-one opportunities with firms that allows students to connect with future employers.

Laham Jones shares that companies decide to recruit out of BYU Marriott for a variety of reasons but are mainly impressed with past finance students from the school. “Many companies hire our alumni and are so pleased with the work our graduates perform that these businesses return to us to find more exceptional hires,” Laham Jones explains. “We have several companies that consistently come to our campus because these professionals know our students are prepared by our exceptional finance professors and will perform well in the industry.”

One of the success stories from the prep series is co-president of the Finance Society Zach Zacchilli, a senior from San Diego, California. Zacchilli took the course during the Winter 2020 semester to prepare for the fall 2020 recruiting season. His preparation paid off with a commercial finance internship at Cisco Systems. “I definitely owe receiving my internship to the finance recruitment prep series and the ways my professors trained me,” Zacchilli says.

Beyond helping him land his internship, Zacchilli says the prep series readied him for long-term success as well. “The prep series was the best way for me to understand what I need to do to go from where I am to where I want to be. The class helped me with internships, full-time offers, graduating with a job, and other future plans,” he adds.

Zacchilli is also grateful that he can return to the prep series through his role as co-president with the Finance Society in order to help the next wave of pre-finance students prepare for internships and long-term industry careers. “In the prep series, we focus on not only helping students land internships, but also helping them be better prepared to accomplish their goals and set them on a path toward a successful life,” he says.

Students in the finance program meet at the Tanner Building for the finance recruitment prep series. Photo by BYU Photo.
Each winter semester, students enroll in the Finance Recruitment Prep Series to learn more about finance classes and careers. Photo by BYU Photo.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Mike Miller