New York City

Destination: New York

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Investment Careers Trek offers undergraduate students a taste of life in the big city—and the possibility of a Wall Street career.

What does it take to land a Wall Street job? A stellar resume, extensive networking, and tenacity all play key roles. Carlson School students also have another resource, however: The Undergraduate Business Career Center, which provides a host of investment-related career resources. Those resources include first-step meetings, workshops, networking opportunities, and career counseling. The culmination of these opportunities comes in the form of an annual Investment Careers Trek to New York in November, co-hosted by the Carlson Funds Enterprise.

Tapping the network

The students aren’t left to fend for themselves, however. An extensive network of Carlson School alumni members coaches students through informational interviews and helps them prepare for telephone and in-person interviews. They also organize site visits and advocate for the interviewing and hiring of Carlson School students.

One of the alumni the students may meet is Matthew Kolling, ’99 BSB, who works at Caxton Associates, a Manhattan-based trading and investment firm. “Having been here for 10-plus years, I can usually tell quickly what position an individual student might excel at,” he says, “so I often end up pointing them in a particular direction.”

Kolling adds that helping out is a two-way street. “I like helping people with careers. Helping is also a way to fulfill one of any alum’s main obligations to the school—we are obliged to help students,” he says. “Maintaining or even raising the prominence of the Carlson School also increases the value of my degree.”

Testing the waters

Dino Bilankov

Many Trek participants are undecided about their career paths. “My main reason to go was to experience New York and the investment banking culture, and see if I wanted to do it,” says Dino Bilankov, who landed a summer internship at RBC and will graduate in May 2011 with a dual degree in communication studies from the College of Liberal Arts and finance at the Carlson School. “I learned a lot about the banks and what recruiters are looking for. It gave me a perspective on what I have to focus on and the skills I have to emphasize.”

Dain Haukos

Dain Haukos, ’10 BSB, had a different mindset. “I knew I wanted to work in the stock market in New York City,” he says. “I’ve always been interested in finance. My dad and I would discuss his portfolio, the stocks and positions he traded, and why he did the things that he did. From there I pretty much decided that I wanted to be involved in the markets.”

Haukos says the Trek exposed him to a wide array of people, including other Carlson School students, corporate recruiters, and alumni with vast business experience. “What I learned on the Trek was the power of speaking— asking questions and most importantly, listening carefully to the responses,” he says, adding that the preparation for the Trek was intense in itself. “It was like having another 40-hour-per-week job to study up on the companies we were visiting and to write up insightful questions for the Q&A sessions at the end of the meetings.”

The work paid off. Haukos was hired by UBS, the first company he met with on the Trek. He’s now in its Equities Graduate Training program and eventually will be assigned to a specific equities desk.

Giving back

Anna Sabiston

Students who have found success with the Trek often find themselves helping others in later journeys. Anna Sabiston, ’04 BSB, attended the Trek in 2004. After graduation, she worked at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital, first as an investment banking analyst, and later as an investment banking associate. She’s since left investment banking to become an entrepreneur—her first endeavor, EcoMaids of Minneapolis, a green residential cleaning service, launched in July. Despite her busy schedule, she still helps students taking part in the Trek. Last November, she helped three students obtain final-round interviews at Barclays Capital; two accepted offers to intern with the firm. “Over the years, I have helped many students receive interviews and offers,” she says. “I have worked with them to revise resumes, write cover letters, and [set up] informational interviews. Once they obtain an interview, I’ve advised them on how to prepare and occasionally conducted mock interviews with them.”

A learning experience

Yitao Ding

Yitao Ding, a finance major set to graduate in 2011 and who worked as an investment banking summer analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, was enamored with participating in the Trek.

“I was very interested in a banking career,” he says. “The staff and consultants at the Undergraduate Business Career Center told me that the New York Trek would be a great way to find out more information about the banking world.”

Ding made the most of the Trek, visiting as many companies and making as many contacts as he could. “We visited several bulge-bracket firms and networked with industry professionals,” he says. “With all of them, you need to be 100% focused, because you are not only there looking for jobs, but also representing the school.”

Ding notes that Carlson School alumni were particularly helpful. “They did everything to make this Trek better—invited us to their firms, introduced us to their colleagues, and gave great suggestions and advice,” he says. “They really want to see more people from the Carlson School hired into the industry. I hope I can be one of them in the future and help get more Gophers into the banking world.”