Skip directly to main navigation | secondary navigation | main content

Banking/Financial Services

Cornell University Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences Cornell University

College of Arts and Sciences, Liberal Arts at Cornell University

Face time with recruiters is crucial. Employers in this highly competitive industry want to know candidates before inviting them to interview. You are strongly urged to attend employer information sessions in addition to visiting employer booths at the career fair. Make the most of all employer networking opportunities. 

Studying abroad? Email the employer contact listed on CCNet to ask how you can connect with someone at the organization. If you plan to study abroad, Spring is the best time for this.  Many employers in this industry have job postings specifically for those students who will be studying abroad in the Spring.

Cornell Wall Street helps connect the vast Cornell network within the finance industry, including linking current students with established alumni.  

Juniors: Visit an I-Bank or other finance employer over winter break. To find on CCNET, enter keywords 'Cornell Days' and check 'Show only jobs from my Career Center.'

Alumni Connections

The A&S Career Connections Committee also hosts semi-annual events in NYC for A&S students interested in learning about finance. Be sure your CCNet profile reflects your current interests so you receive emails about these.


History is great training for Investment Banking. In studying history, you are trying to figure out why people made decisions and did the things they did. You must sort through facts, theories, claims, and missing information and draw conclusions. Investment banking also involves similar efforts to analyze and weigh information, and then to draw conclusions that result in client recommendations.

History ’87, Managing Director of Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs

Banking/Financial Services


There are two basic types of banking activities and within these there are several areas in which you might choose to work. The two banking types have been converging and overlapping for many years, but the essence of each is described below.

Investment Banking

Investment banks provide services and advice to corporations, investors, and other individuals or institutions. These services are generally based on the intermediation between issuers of capital and providers of capital, and include financial products ranging from debt or equity issuance to advice on mergers and acquisitions.  Within an investment bank you might work in some of the following areas (not a comprehensive list):

  • Corporate Finance:  Assisting businesses with their funding needs, typically in support of relationship managers who are responsible for integrated client interaction.
  • Capital Markets: Advising business on a variety of ways to access financial markets, usually coordinating between corporate finance, sales & trading, and research.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions: Assisting buyers or sellers of businesses with deal execution, advising on the strategy, timing, value, and terms associated with such transactions.
  • Public Finance: Assisting municipalities and other public-sector entities with their financing needs.
  • Sales/Trading: On behalf of clients or using the bank's own capital, selling, buying and structuring financial products.
  • Research: Providing industry, company, or product analysis to investors, typically in support of sales & trading and wealth management areas.
  • Wealth Management: Assisting individual investors with a variety of personal finance decisions and investment choices.

Commercial Banking

Commercial banks are typically in the business of taking deposits and making loans using their own capital. Such loans are offered to both businesses and individuals, and there are a number of related activities in support of the commercial banking product (not a comprehensive list):

  • Relationship Management: Interacting with corporate, small business or individual clients to market the bank's products and make sure client needs are addressed.
  • Structuring/Underwriting: Using the bank's resources to package loans or related financial products for clients, making sure that capital risks are adequately mitigated.
  • Syndication & Sales: Offloading all or parts of underwritten loans to other financial institutions, in support of structuring/underwriting and relationship management.
  • Risk Management: Assisting clients and working with bank's internal resources to help manage interest rate, foreign exchange and other market price exposure.
  • Cash Management: Assisting corporations with the flows and short-term investment of cash balances.
  • Retail Banking: Working with individuals and small businesses to address their banking needs at the branch level.
  • Credit Cards, Mortgages, Student Loans, etc.: Marketing, structuring, packaging, underwriting, and management of consumer credit products.

Finance (non-Banking)

There are numerous opportunities in financial services outside of commercial or investment banking. These areas often contain elements of the banking discipline, and the organizations are usually investment or commercial banking clients. Non-banking finance fields include the following:

  • Hedge funds: Investment vehicles that mainly trade public and highly liquid securities, using a variety of strategies.
  • Private equity funds: Investment and buyout firms that privately finance or acquire businesses, often using financial leverage to enhance returns after a multi-year hold period.
  • Venture capital funds: Investment funds that finance startups and other early-stage businesses, usually with minority equity positions, hoping for IPO or M&A liquidity events as these businesses mature.
  • Finance companies: Public or private entities that provide financing - usually debt, in a variety of forms - to businesses.
  • Corporate departments: Some financial position are within corporate organizations (controllership & finance, auditing/compliance, investor relations, operations)
  • Other: Some positions are at miscellaneous other entities that support the financial and investment community, such as rating agencies, law consulting firms focusing on securities or corporate finance, audit firms, stock exchanges, and government and nonprofit organizations.

Desired Skillsets:

Employers in this industry are looking for certain strengths. Focus on these in your resumes, your cover letters, and your interviews.  Chances are these strengths are what made you interested in this field to begin with. 

  • Quantitative
  • Analytical
  • Finance/economics interest
  • Writing
  • Teamwork
  • Research
  • Computer (Excel)


Many finance employers select the majority of their full-time hires from former interns.  You should aim to have an internship after your junior year and do your best to secure an offer to return after graduation.


  • Visit Career Services for advice early on.
  • Participate in FRESH and apply for a finance externship.
  • Follow the financial industry. Find blogs, newspapers, and websites of interest.
  • Participate in the Extern program in the Spring.
  • Research different areas of finance.
  • Utilize the Alumni Mentor network.
  • Attend employer information sessions and recruiting events.

  • Visit a finance employer over break. Go to CCNET and type in “Cornell Days” and check “Show only jobs from my Career Center.”
  • Apply for internships in late fall/early winter. On Campus Recruiting Interviews begin right after winter break.
  • Continue to keep up with financial news.
  • Attend employer information sessions and recruiting events.
  • If you plan to study abroad, Spring is the best time for this. Many employers in this industry have job postings specifically for students who will be studying abroad in the Spring.
  • If applicable, apply for jobs in early fall – many On Campus Recruiting applications are due within the first few weeks of school.  Interviews take place soon after.
  • Take advantage of your network for job search help.

Print Resources

Sample books available in the A&S Career Services Library:
  • Beat the Street: Investment Banking Interviews
  • Career Opportunities in Banking, Finance and Insurance
  • Hedge Fund Careers
  • Opportunities in Banking Careers
  • More print resources


Industry News Resources

Cornell Organizations

Other Career Resources

  • Accountemps is a Robert Half Company, the world's first and largest specialized financial temporary staffing firm for accounting and financial professionals.
  • Careers In Finance provides an overview of different areas in banking/finance, desired skill-sets, base salaries, etc.
  • Econ-jobs is a site that assists those interested in finance and economics.  There are postings for full-time jobs and internships. The website offers an intimate approach to the job search process.
  • FINS is a new venture from Dow Jones with the goal to provide finance professionals with a resource that combines useful content and current news with relevant career advice and an industry-specific job board.
  • Jobs in Finance offers job postings for a variety of finance related full-time and internship positions.
  • Microfinancejobs offers job and internship listings in microfinance.
  • Onewire matches applicants with finance job & internship opportunities
  • SEO-U is a summer pipeline program for first- and second-year undergraduates interested in learning more about financial services and corporate America.
  • Wall Street Oasis blog - articles on breaking into finance, industry news, job search tips, and more.
  • Street of Walls Guides
  • Unofficial Guide to Banking
  • Vault and Wetfeet Guides

For Additional Career Planning Information: