A common question I get from a lot of students in college is, “What extracurriculars should I pursue a successful career in finance?” This is something I asked mentors and interviewers before I started working in finance too, and it’s a great way to get a head start on learning some of the skills required to successfully work in finance. While there is no perfect set of extracurriculars that will land you a finance internship or job, there are some that are common among a lot of current finance professionals because they teach you about the job itself or help you develop character traits that are desirable in the industry (hard work, discipline, being outgoing, etc.).
The most important aspect of any extracurricular you pursue is to invest your time in activities you genuinely enjoy and take on leadership positions within them to demonstrate to future employers that you are capable of leading teams. If you are later on in college and haven’t been able to secure leadership positions or find things you are truly passionate about, it’s not too late to change courses or find interest groups that you enjoy. If you’re able to start a club of your own, that also shows great initiative and could be more fulfilling for you than joining an existing organization. Here we will cover some of the common extracurriculars that finance professionals pursued in college to give you inspiration for what you might want to pursue.
Investment or Finance Clubs
Outside of any classes you may take related to investing or finance, these clubs can provide you with the tools to start learning about what a role in finance might entail. Furthermore, the network that you gain by being part of one of these clubs is invaluable. I know many of my peers in finance got referrals, interview advice, and general industry knowledge from their older peers in their school’s investment or finance clubs. These clubs generally require a rigorous interview process, which can be intimidating if you aren’t familiar with finance or with interviewing for competitive clubs.
If you are a younger student (freshman or sophomore), my advice would be to try to network with current club members over coffee to learn more about what they do in the club and ask for advice for the next interview cycle. You can then start preparing to join the club soon, and club members will appreciate your initiative in reaching out. In some ways, joining an investment or finance club in college requires a lot of the same skills you will need to interview for internships and full-time roles.
It is no secret that many finance professionals participated in some form of athletics in college. Being an athlete requires a certain amount of discipline and drive, and you learn to be a team player as a member of a sports team. Interviewers for your future jobs in finance tend to recognize and respect the amount of commitment that goes into being an athlete in college. Even if you are not on a Division I team, you can be part of a smaller club team or intramural sports. When I was interviewing for internships in college, I had many stories from my sports experiences to show how I overcame challenges, worked effectively with a team, or led a team to victory.
In addition, I believe that being involved in athletics gave me incredible time management skills in college. With 2+ hours devoted to practice almost every day, I had to be disciplined with the time I spent outside of class and make sure I got enough sleep during the week. Also, many of my peers were on my team or other sports teams since we had similar schedules and ate dinner together often. Many of these people went into business fields and are great connections to have when you’re looking for future roles.
Greek Life or Business Fraternities
Being part of Greek life in college was a really rewarding experience for me in multiple ways. Greek institutions place a large emphasis on helping each other academically, so I always felt supported in planning my finance coursework and completing my assignments. The sorority I was in also had a few older sisters who had graduated and worked in finance already. I largely credit two of my older sorority sisters for introducing me to investment banking and helping me get my junior summer internship. Also, the social aspect was not only beneficial for my social college life but also conveyed to interviewers that I was a social and outgoing person (i.e., someone they would want to hire and work long days with).
I didn’t have business fraternities at my school, but I heard from my friends at other schools that they had a similar experience in terms of professional and personal support from their peers. Joining these organizations requires some sort of rush process, so it’s important to prepare earlier on in college if you’d like to be a part of one of these organizations. I joined my freshman year and was a vice president in my last two years, which I enjoyed because I got to contribute back to the organization and also build up my leadership capabilities.
This is a bit of a vague category, but it applies to anything you are passionate about that may or may not be directly applicable to the finance job you want to pursue. I joined multiple different interest groups throughout my time in college. At first, I joined various tutoring clubs and Model United Nations to further my interests in teaching and policy. Once I determined I wanted to pursue a career in investment banking or private equity, I became a member of the Finance Club at my school. When I got my summer investment banking internship offer for the natural resources group, I joined a sustainable energy club to learn more about the industry.
I had always been interested in energy, but this was an important step to expand my knowledge before I began my internship. I was able to build up leadership positions in these clubs, which was important for networking and also for taking more ownership of my learnings from the club. I found that by joining extracurriculars that fulfilled me and becoming a leader in them, I got a lot out of the activities I was involved in throughout college.
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