College: UC Berkeley
Hometown: Sacramento, California
First Job: Associate for Brown-Simpson Asset Management in Palo Alto, California. “It’s a catch-all position. It’s a small office, so I’m doing everything to a degree. A lot of research on companies, a lot of due diligence.”
Job search advice for the Class of 2000: “Hang in there. Don’t take the first offer that you get because you think it will be the only offer that comes. It’s a long process. It takes a while to find something that you really want to do. Just by searching out companies you will begin to understand what you want to do and what specific jobs offer.”
What were the most important criteria for you in choosing a first job out of college?
“How involved I will be and how much education I will get. Education was definitely the priority. I wanted to be exposed to as much as I could. It’s a small office. The company is based in New York, and they just established an office in Palo Alto. I’m one of only three people out here. It’s definitely small right now, so I’m included in everything that we do and I have one-on-one contact with one of the partners. That’s very nice. My job is growing from normal grunt work to much more than that.”
How important is money?
“I wanted to live at a certain standard, but most of the jobs I was after — money management and investment banking — were in the same pay scale. I would have taken less money in order to do something productive and educational.”
Did you take into consideration benefits as well as salary when choosing your first job?
“It was something in the back of my mind, but finding a good job was definitely a bigger priority than the pay.”
How important is the company’s working environment?
“When I was looking for a job, I didn’t take that into consideration. But now that I’ve been working for about a month, I think it’s really important to have a general comfort level. It’s nice to not wear a suit everyday, but just slacks and a T-shirt. It’s also nice to work with young and energetic people around. It’s a pretty dynamic atmosphere here.”
How much influence did your peers have on your job decision?
“None. I didn’t face a lot of competition from my peers because I was actually trying to do something fairly difficult, which was trying to get a job in money management. Most of those jobs go to people with MBAs or people with experience. Most of my friends who wanted to go into finance went into investment banking or other jobs available to undergraduates. That just didn’t interest me.”
What was the most frustrating aspect of your job search?
“Probably just not having the qualifications on paper that most companies wanted for the entry-level positions they had available. Most money management firms want MBAs or people with experience in the field, so for an undergraduate just coming out of college, it’s pretty tough to get your foot in the door. Most jobs I could have gotten were pretty menial. Foot in the door, but you’re not doing a whole lot. I just got lucky. This job just popped up.”
“Also, the industry I wanted to get into was not one of the main recruiting industries that came to campus. My search was a lot more strained because of that. I couldn’t take the easy route and interview through school. I had to be proactive.”
What do you hope to get out of your first job?
“A good education. Coming out of college, you have some skill sets, but you don’t really understand or know much about the outside world. Especially concerning the field you want to go into, you don’t know much about the structures of any industry. I just hope to develop an understanding of finance and money management.”
What do you think you can offer as a recent college graduate that other, more experienced job seekers can not offer?
“Probably not that much, to tell you the truth. People with experience have just that – more experience. They may not be willing to learn or put in such long hours, but that’s not necessarily across the board. It’s just an issue of how much you want to work.”
Do you feel that employers today realize the potential of college graduates? Are they willing to hand over more responsibility than an older, more hierarchical business model would allow?
“The older, hierarchical business model is still in place. Most of the large companies I interviewed with wanted college graduates to fit into their super entry level jobs and then work their way up through the channels. Smaller companies are more willing to put more responsibility on your shoulders, which is why I targeted small companies in my job search.”