Financial services can be a lucrative and gratifying profession, and college can be the perfect time to begin preparing for a long career in this industry. A financial advisor helps clients make life-changing decisions and manage savings and investments responsibly.
A financial services career may require you to meet with clients, monitor the stock market, and understand and communicate financial information. Fortunately, preparatory work can be started while you’re still in your college years, and it’s the perfect time to start making connections and picking up skills.
Take the SIE Exam
You don’t have to wait until you’re sponsored by a FINRA member firm to begin preparing for a career in the financial services industry. The Securities Industry Essential (SIE) Exam can be taken by anyone, and therefore helps lower the barrier into.
Even college students that are not yet affiliated with a company can begin to prepare for their careers by taking this exam on their own. The SIE Exam is the first step into the industry, setting the stage for subsequent top-off exams.
Engaging in securities business will eventually require you to register with a FINRA member firm and take a qualification exam for the particular niche of the industry you are entering. But the SIE is a great first step and helps demonstrate to future employers that you are dedicated to entering this line of work.
The SIE Exam helps assess your understanding of securities industry fundamentals, including product types, risks, prohibited practices, industry markets and regulatory agencies. Passing this exam is not enough to qualify you to engage in the securities business, but it shows initiative and provides a solid foundation to rely on when entering the a financial services career/job market.
The financial services industry offers a great deal of opportunity, and not just for finance and economics majors. College grads can become personal financial advisors, financial analysts, investment bankers, auditors, accountants and more.
Jobs are competitive, but they are also numerous, making unemployment rates in this industry lower than the overall unemployment rates of the nation. Breaking into a new industry can be difficult, especially without employment experience to back up your interests.
Talk to friends and family that are already in the industry and attend networking events. Connect with fellow alumni as well as mentors to find individuals who work for companies in the industry. These contacts can help you understand what skills and experience are the most important to attain.
Internships are a great way to get experience while you are still in college. They also help you get to know others in the industry, and they open up a door for future employment. Looking for these options early in your college career can help you land an entry-level job upon graduation.
Hone Your Skills
Employers want to see that you are not only well-rounded but have spent a significant amount of time focusing on skills that you can apply to your position. In addition to financial skills, it’s important to have others such as international and cross-cultural experience, or even a second language.
Any soft skill that helps you interact with clients will be a benefit that your employer will take note of.
Be realistic about your goals for that first entry-level finance job. Make sure you leave the door open for positions that provide you with experience that you can apply to future positions. Keep in mind that it is very rare that your first job will become your last job as well, so don’t hold out for that perfect offer.
Now is the time to explore those entry-level positions that allow you the opportunity to try on a broad range of career paths and gain a well-rounded foundation from which to aim high. Smaller companies can also provide a broader scope of learning opportunities and inter-departmental interactions, so don’t shy away from part-time jobs and internships that don’t come from a big name.
The finance industry is large, and the opportunities within it are numerous. As a college student, you are in the prime position to test out different areas and become a desirable job candidate by building a foundation of experience through internships and the SIE Exam.
Industry-specific skills are important, but employers want to see that you can interact with clients and solve problems as well. College is the perfect time to start getting your foot in the door and networking with individuals who can be advocates for you in the future.