How to Secure an Interview in Non-Traditional Finance Industries from a student’s perspective

By Ryan Xia

Hi everyone! My name is Ryan Xia, a Stern junior studying Finance and Actuarial Science. Passionate about the study and practice of risks, I have had quite a lot of professional exposure to non-traditional finance industries. If you are actively looking for, or thinking about, a potential internship in a non-traditional finance industry, such as risk, the following tips may help you better prepare for your interviews.

Misconception 1: Finance employers only care about networking
It is true that networking not only broadens your personal connections but also unlocks potential opportunities. However, because the non-traditional finance industry is usually much more technical than traditional finance jobs (investment banking), networking is not the only key to success. While it might help you get your first-round interview, (usually a 30 minute casual phone conversation), it is your strong technical background that makes you stand out. As far as I know, a lot of top insurance companies and risk management firms start to question candidates on their technical background even starting at the first round of interviews. With that being said, in order to enter the world of non-traditional finance jobs, spending your time enhancing your technical skills is critical.

Misconception 2: Non-traditional finance jobs are boring
Non-traditional finance industries such as Risk are known for their vigor for change and their constantly changing environment due to different regulatory shifts. This is a perk of working in a non-traditional finance industry as being outside of the ordinary finance box provides you with a lot of working autonomy and flexibility. Additionally, this type of work may challenge you since many of the responsibilities generally do not have a standard approach and require constant critical thinking to come up with unique innovative solutions. For instance, I was asked to model the potential likelihood of a terrorism attack in a metropolitan area. Sounds interesting right? 

Misconception 3: All finance based recruiting structures and timelines are the same
There is generally no fixed timeline for recruiting for non-traditional finance jobs; recruiting activities go on all year around. I got my offer to Marsh & McLennan Companies in May, two months before the internship started. This difference in recruiting timeline is likely due to the smaller applicant pool that exists for non-traditional finance jobs due to the extensive technical knowledge and statistical skills required. I am sure you have heard how competitive it is to even get an interview spot for Investment Banking internships, not to mention actually securing an internship position. 

Misconception 4: If the application pool for non-traditional finance industries is smaller, it must be easier to secure an interview.
Not necessarily! Because the non-traditional finance industry itself already applies a filter to the applicants (only those who pay attention to technical skills and are willing to devote huge amount of time, energy, and effort to sharpening the technical skills will find pleasure in exploring non-traditional finance industries), applying to non-traditional finance jobs is both competitive and non-competitive. It is competitive because other applicants are just as hardworking and technically acute as you are. Thus acing the interviews is a bit challenging. On the other hand, because you do not have that many candidates competing for one position, statistically speaking, your chances of securing an interview opportunity are higher. 

Non-Traditional Finance industries such as risk, as you can sense now, ask for distinctively different traits in candidates and have their own preferences and modes of operation. If you are still have foundational question about non-traditional finance industry or would like to ask for clarifications on potential “misconceptions” please do not hesitate to reach out to me at wx505@stern.nyu.edu.

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