Finance grads, land your dream job

Finance majors should build on their strategy skills, should they want to be a standout applicant.

Last Updated: Sep 26, 2013, 00:26 AM IST

Finance majors should build on their strategy skills, should they want to be a standout applicant.

Executives in search of well rounded finance students look for quantitative, strategic, critical decision-making and communicative skills, which are sometimes best developed in classes outside of business schools.

If you want to get the best possible preparation for the finance world from your undergraduate education, put some thought into which classes to take, that may fall outside the finance curriculum.
Finance students will be tasked with big responsibilities in their careers. They will have to manage the flow of money at their companies and identify financial risks and returns to make effective business decisions.

Those who want to have an edge over their competition, both during the initial post-graduate job search and throughout their careers, will take advanced mathematics, accounting, economics, psychology, communications and writing courses to gain a deeper insight into their jobs and a better ability to work effectively with people. Remember, companies are in need of strategic candidates, not walking resumes.

Finance professors at top colleges have made suggestions for the following courses finance students should take outside their business school curricula.

Mathematics - Courses in college algebra and calculus will help students learn how to solve equations in complex financial markets. Statistics helps with decisions based on the likelihood of various outcomes and allows finance students to learn to reach conclusions about general differences between groups and large batches of information. It also explains the movements of a company`s stock.

Accounting - Financial and managerial accounting courses teach finance students how to understand, record and report financial transactions, monitor the company`s budgets and performance, and examine the costs of the organisation`s products and services.

Economics - Economics looks at how scarce resources are allocated to achieve needs and wants. A course in macroeconomics will teach finance students to understand the impact of financial market activities on the overall economy. It will help them understand the behaviors that occur within individual firms and among consumers, as well as how various financial decisions can impact a firm`s success.

Psychology - Financial professionals need to understand the behaviors and thought processes that help drive the movements in financial markets. A course in critical thinking teaches a finance student to reflect and evaluate an argument, and examine situations in all dimensions before applying a solution. This involves understanding what is not known about the situation versus what is known. Behavioral finance can help finance students explore why and how the financial markets aren`t working, by examining how investors` behaviors are associated with market anomalies. This subject helps financial professionals determine where investors make mistakes and how to correct them, by examining the emotion or thought behind the actions. Behavioral psychology helps finance majors look at the observable and cognitive aspects of human behavior, within a financial environment.

Writing - A course in technical writing will teach students how to put forth strong, clear and organised ideas, purposes and explanations in memos, reports and letters.

Communications - A communications course, such as public speaking, helps finance students present financial reports and explain the meanings behind equations and numbers, to colleagues in group settings. It also helps with the management of people and organisational relations, such as in delegating responsibilities to employees within financial departments. Business students also need courses in corporate communications, crisis communications and PR strategies. A recent study states how financial scandals and downturns can affect shareholder support, consumer confidence and corporate reputation issues. Finance students will benefit from knowing how to handle corporate reputation issues, should they arise.

Ethics - Corporate scandals, which involved irregular accounting procedures, have also encouraged some business schools to add a course in ethics to their finance curricula. These courses focus on moral development in an attempt to stem future misconduct in business environments.