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L.Srikumar Pai
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Career Guidance: Corporate finance

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Corporate finance is a broad heading encompassing accounting, commercial and investment banking, financial services, investment management, insurance, venture capital, and corporate development and strategic planning. If you enter one of these fields, your job will center around helping companies find money to run and develop their businesses, manage their assets, acquire other firms, and plan for their financial future. A person’s experience in corporate finance depends
on the size and complexity of the company for which they work, but jobs are relatively stable and include many benefits, including high salaries, travel, and numerous networking opportunities.

Experience, Education, and Skills
As an undergraduate, the best way to prepare for a career in corporate finance is by taking relevant business courses such as financial management and economics. An internship will allow you to gauge your true interest in the field and gain hands-on experience – not to mention add significant value to your résumé.

Many firms hire outstanding undergraduate students right out of college, and some feature training programs that rotate new hires between divisions. If you excel and develop a good working relationship with the manager overseeing the division of your choice, you might be assigned there. People with significant investment banking experience also stand a good chance of being hired for a corporate financial development position. That being said, an advanced degree or certification is enormously helpful for promotions in corporate finance, especially if you plan to be in the field for the long haul. An MBA, CPA, or CFA is necessary if you aspire to senior budgeting, planning, or strategy positions.

Additionally, success in this field requires strong business acumen, mathematical prowess, adaptability, and a knack for problem-solving and critical thinking. Detail-oriented people are needed here, as success depends on exactitude.

Job Search
There are a number of ways to improve your chances in the interview process. Be prepared to talk about your computer skills; fluency with Excel, VBA macros, and Reuters and Bloomberg stations are necessary. Know why you want to work in the particular finance field you’re interviewing for and what distinguishes the firm you’re interviewing with from its competitors. Do your homework to understand what’s going on with the firm and the industry. Be engaged and ask targeted questions. (Avoid ones you should already know the answer to.) The best way to get a job is through on-campus recruiting. Be sure to check MIT Careers Office and MonsterTRAK postings frequently during the fall and spring recruiting seasons to optimize your chances. And if you land an interview, stress your quantitative and analytical abilities as well as your communication skills. Careers Office staff members are available for individualized appointments, mock interviews, and advising throughout the recruitment process.


Careers in Finance
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International Finance Corporation Finance
The Economist

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