I’m pretty new to Holy Cross, but over the course of the fall semester, I’ve had a few opportunities to meet with some distinguished alums working in the finance world. When asking how our program can better prepare HC students for careers in finance, no matter who I talked to, or where they worked, I heard the same response over and over again:
THEY HAVE TO READ THE JOURNAL
So, there’s the big secret everyone. No matter what else you do to prepare for your finance interviews, number one on your list should be reading the Wall Street Journal every single day. No excuses. Every alum I spoke with, no matter their age or title, promised me that in any interview they can tell within the first few minutes if the candidate reads the Journal regularly. Those who do, engage in educated conversation about what is going on in the industry and can provide well informed answers to questions about market trends and statistics. Those who don’t tend to have brief and unsuccessful interviews.
I have compiled a few tips they suggest that might make this task less daunting.
1. Find a few companies you like and follow them.
You don’t have to be able to quote the paper cover to cover, but be able to speak intelligently about major happenings in the industry. An easy way to do this is by following articles about a product or company that interests you. The most common examples that they gave me were Nike and Apple. If you can have a discussion about the two companies, who their competitors are, what changes you see in their product lines and how they are fairing in the market, you are proving to your interviewer that you understand the industry and are engaged and interested in the field.
2. Don’t try to read everything.
Piggybacking on the last point, it’s important to remember that you won’t be able to retain everything if you attempt to study the enter issue. Read enough articles so that you feel comfortable and confident with the material and recent industry activities. If you continue in this manner, eventually you’ll become familiar with the styles and formats of the Journal and you’ll be able to expand your reading and retain more information.
3. You don’t have to go it alone.
One young alumnus, who recently finished his MBA, told me that the way he got used to reading the Journal was in the company of his study group. When you have friends to read and discuss the articles with, you are more likely to concentrate on the material and to remember what you are reading. It keeps your mind from wandering and it gives you practice discussing what you’ve read. You can bounce ideas off of each other and add insight to what you are learning. It could become your new lunch/dinner table discussion with your other finance-minded friends.
With all of this in mind, I have two tools for you to consider.
First, Prebusiness has a site that can be really helpful for you: Ewallstreeter This site brings the important financial news articles and blogs right to you. It’s a free service that has been tailored to meet Holy Cross students’ needs, so take advantage of it!
Second, I’d like to invite all of you to join a Wall Street Journal reading/discussion group. We can meet once a week and talk about what we’ve read, what’s going on, and help clarify anything that might not be clear. Participants can switch off giving updates on the companies they are following and industry changes they find interesting.
Email me if you are interested. Oh, and don’t forget to find us on facebook!
Until next week!
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies
Director, Entrepreneurial Studies & Pre-business Advisor