By Rachel Ravina

Have you ever wondered how those Wall Street tycoons made their first million? Or are you simply fascinated by the peaks and valleys of the stock market? Money is essential to every industry and an interest in how finances work can lead to profitable skills. For aspiring financiers, learning the tricks of the trade may pay dividends as a potential major.

What You’ll Be Doing

Depending on your university’s qualifications—every selection is different—you’ll take courses like Investment Management, Financial Markets and Institutions, and International Financial Management, to name a few.

Math is a large aspect of money, so having a concrete understanding of financial concepts is crucial for success in the major. Coursework is pivotal to learning, but it isn’t everything. Developing a social life as a finance major by joining extracurricular activities like a finance association or a business fraternity can be beneficial as well.


“With a finance degree you can pretty much write your ticket and go anywhere as long as you have the drive and the passion and a little bit of soft skills and sales experience to show other people what you can do and how you can do it.” – Sean Gunning, Penn State University 2015, Retirement Sales District Manager at ADP.

“The [job] training was something that was extremely helpful and I know that all banks do rigorous training programs and it’s an integral part of how you get familiar with how markets work.” –Kristi Kovats, Penn State University 2015, Global Wealth Management Analyst at JPMorgan.

“I would say [finance] does give you a little bit of excitement in the fact that your decisions will affect everything going on in a business unit.” – Joseph Devlin, Boston College 2015, Financial Analyst for the H1 Program at Textron.


“Competition is probably your biggest thing in finance. The thing about trying to interview for Wall Street is you know everyone wants to be a Wall Street guy because they can make a ton of money if they succeed and do well. And the competition is there… it all kind of comes down to the soft skills of a person and if they can get that job.” – Gunning

“The hardest thing for me was coming from a non-target school, and when you’re coming from a non-target school, the recruiting process was harder.” – Kovats

“One thing I wish [is that] I would have been more proactive in finance. One thing you’ll quickly learn in the field is that the people are higher up… there are very few young people because it takes so much time to learn…the more practice you put in college, the more quickly you’ll be able to move up and understand things.” – Devlin

Career Opportunities

  • Corporate Finance – Working in the corporate world means helping the company locate the necessary funds to make the business profitable. A person who works in corporate finance needs to assess the best investor profits for both present and future monetary methods.

  • Entrepreneur – Startups have the possibility of not just making you a financier, but also an entrepreneur. Owning your own business affords you the flexibility and freedom to make difficult financial decisions. While one partner handles the creativity aspect, you can tackle crunching the numbers and developing a budget that will help support that creativity.

  • Investment Banker – This job is for those who desire to work in a banking setting. Investment bankers fundraise for larger public or private organizations and aid clients in facilitating tasks like business mergers and acquisitions. An investment banker spots potential financial problems before they occur. A few prominent banks to work for include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley or JPMorgan Chase.

  • Financial Analyst – Did you pay attention in your microeconomics class? Good, because it’ll come in handy. Financial analysts help companies make important business decisions. Whether it’s for private clients or large corporations, financial analysts have a way of picking up on trends. Predicting certain climates for the economy as well as the stock market, analysts are almost like economic psychics.

  • The Wolf of Wall Street – Taking the road Jordan Belford went down may not be the smartest decision, but working on Wall Street is certainly a viable option for someone with a finance degree. With a variety of options like banking, hedge funds, and private equity, climbing the financial ladder can lead to high-paying salaries in the future.