Finance Bootcamp Helps Students Explore Careers in Finance Industry

Students, alumni and parents discuss careers in finance.
Students, alumni and parents discuss careers in finance.

Can you imagine waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday and making a trip from Clinton to New York City and back in the same day? That’s exactly what a group of highly motivated Hamilton students did on September 15 as they attended the Career Center’s first Finance Bootcamp. Jennifer Hill ’87, CFO of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s investment bank, as well as Candace Browning P’10, the head of Global Research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, hosted the event in New York at the Bank of America Tower.

Mary McLean Evans ’82, assistant vice president of Hamilton’s Career Center, introduced the two hosts, who began by encouraging students to explore the countless opportunities available in the world of finance and find what best matches their talents and personality.

Browning mentioned how being a history major has helped her throughout her career, as being able to predict future trends based on past events is an essential part of a career in research. She recommended students use their liberal arts education to explore a variety of academic interests, in addition to fields that seem the most related to business and finance. Hill further reinforced the idea that Hamilton graduates are very diverse in their interests and that there is a path in the world of finance for anyone who is motivated and eager to succeed. Hill, a career banker, mentioned how she has occupied a wide variety of positions before becoming CFO, each of them helping her learn a new angle of the business.

After the opening remarks, the students and alumni divided into two groups, a senior panel and a junior/sophomore panel. The senior panel received a comprehensive finance industry overview from successful Hamilton alumni. John Merrill ’92 opened the panel by comparing the Hamilton community and network to a ‘family’ that is instrumental to our growth and success.

Merrill and Macrae Sykes ’96 offered an overview of the asset management and research branches of finance as well as advice on how to break in and succeed in the constantly changing career environment of finance.
Joseph Simmel ’95 of Goldman Sachs provided a living example of starting his career in a completely different industry on a different continent (Europe) and transitioning into his dream career, private wealth management, serving high net worth individuals and families. Andy Wiechmann ’02 described investment banking as offering some of the best opportunities starting out, thanks to the direct work with major companies.

A graduate of Kirkland College, Susan Skerritt ‘K77 gave an account of her many experiences in different areas of finance and how she finally ended up working for Bank of New York Mellon, founded by none other than Alexander Hamilton himself. Finally, Charles Boyer ’93 and David Bawden ’82 provided insights into other careers in finance such as human resources, IT, credit analysis and risk management.

The sophomore/junior panel benefited from a presentation given by young alumni Jeff Rabinowitz ’12 and Cindy Zhu ’11 from Goldman Sachs, Ted Finan ’12 from Morgan Stanley, and Mihai Dohotaru ’13, who will be starting at UBS after graduation. The four revealed their stories of breaking into the industry and shared advice with students on how to best navigate the recruiting process and stand out from the many qualified career seekers. Yet again, they emphasized the importance of the Hamilton alumni network for successfully breaking in and recommended students take a proactive and driven role in finding the right career.

Throughout the event, several breakout sessions allowed students to converse with alumni one-on-one and learn more about the path each of them took after Hamilton. Not surprisingly, everyone had different stories post-Hamilton, but they all had a liberal arts education and a supportive alumni community at the core of their success.

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