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Despite Economic Crisis, Investment Banks Still Hiiring UI Finance Students

Investment banks are shedding employees by the thousands and others have disappeared entirely, but the ones that survive are still hiring University of Iowa finance students.

This year, of the 14 juniors from the Tippie College of Business' Hawkinson Institute of Business Finance who are looking for opportunities in investment banking, 12 have secured summer internships with such surviving financial institutions as Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, and UBS. This despite the fact that most firms have reduced their intern class sizes by 30 to 40 percent.

"We'll actually have more Hawkinson students starting careers in investment banking this year than last, and more of them will work at Wall Street-based bulge bracket firms than we've ever had," said Brian Richman, director of the Hawkinson Institute.

He said internships are important because they're the front door to a career in investment banking.

"If an intern performs well, the firm usually offers a permanent job after graduation," he said. "Historically, our students have been very good at converting internships into job offers, and somewhat surprisingly, that hasn't changed despite the recession and the contractions in the investment banking field."

Now in its 10th year, the Hawkinson Institute of Business Finance takes some of the Tippie College's top students and rigorously prepares them for careers in investment banking and sales and trading as Hawkinson Scholars. The program accepts students after a competitive application process, and those who are accepted have an average GPA of 3.8. About 20 students graduate from the center each year. Of the 17 seniors graduating from the Hawkinson Scholars program this spring, all but one have full-time jobs lined up after graduation. Seven of those seniors had investment banking internships last summer as juniors, and Richman said all of them have accepted full-time positions in the industry.

In addition to graduates going to top investment banking firms, others will work as consultants for the firms Bain & Co. and Towers Perrin, and in portfolio management for Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group.

"Our students are exceptionally well-prepared to succeed in the field, both from what they learn in the classroom and from their Hawkinson activities," said Richman, a former investment banker himself. "These students knew it was going to be a highly competitive market this year and they had to be further along the learning curve than they might have been in better times. They absolutely rose to the challenge and worked harder, and it's paid off."

So well, in fact, that Richman said several scholars have actually turned down job offers.


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