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Identify a Suitable Position

Determine which type of Wall Street job is best suited for you based on your personality and skills. Rather than limit yourself to a specific niche in the market, make sure your net is wide—the larger your job search scope, the better your chances of getting your foot in the door. There are numerous jobs at investment firms, and each has its own characteristics and requires specific skills and traits. These can be broken down into three main categories:

Investment Team
Jobs in this category include research analysts, portfolio managers, and traders. At many firms, analysts and portfolio managers are one and the same, with portfolio managers often coming up through the ranks of the research arm of the organization.

Skills and traits you need for these jobs include a mathematical and analytical mindset, knowledge of accounting and economics, and the ability to focus and see the trees in a dense forest. Hours are often long but not overwhelming.

Investment teams typically begin the day before the market opens and end it after its closing. Members of the team incorporate the most current economic, financial, and company-specific news into an investment thesis and decide which securities to hold, buy, or sell. This group is the hardest to break into at an entry-level unless the organization has a multi-layered structure that hires new graduates.

Positions in operations include client relationship, marketing, risk, legal, back-office functions, and other systems. These positions are varied and can provide an entry point to an investment organization.

Many of these jobs require some degree of an analytical mind and a self-starter personality. Client teams additionally require strong interpersonal and communication skills along with a distinct understanding of the portfolio and markets. These jobs are fast-paced, demanding, and often the least heralded.

This is a broad category. In sell-side firms, investment bankers are successful when they build and maintain strong relationships that translate into revenue for the firm.

Necessary traits here bear a strong resemblance to the sales organization that sells the firm’s products—research in the case of the sell-side or portfolios in the case of the buy-side. Strong relationship building and interpersonal and communication skills are necessary to be successful. While a financial mind is extremely useful here, it is not the most important trait.

These jobs also provide entry points—either as sales assistants or entry-level analysts. The hours are often long, demand intense customer interactions, and require a significant amount of travel. The focus is on building relationships.

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