Posted by: Louis Lavelle on April 2, 2009
With the economy in turmoil, many MBA graduates are finding the job search tough going. To give readers some insight into the strategies they’re pursuing and the difficulties they face, BusinessWeek has recruited four out-of-work MBAs to write about their experiences for a new feature called “The Hunt” that will appear periodically on the Getting In blog. Comments, as always, are welcome.
I am a second-year MBA student at London Business School, and I am a highly motivated and outgoing team player. I left my country Peru and a previous trader position to seek a more sophisticated, innovative, and challenging environment where I can grow and prove myself working within a great team. Before London Business School, I developed both my analytical and interpersonal skills while working in consulting and capital markets. Working as a foreign exchange trader for the last three years and being involved with financial markets gave me an in-depth understanding of the markets’ internal dynamics. Working as a consultant and trader helped me to manage pressure in an effective way, solve complicated problems with limited time, and lead multi-disciplinary teams to meet their goals.
I was looking for a more developed market with more complex products and the possibility to keep learning and evolving within a top-tier investment bank. The idea besides this was to experience different markets, products and ideas, fully understand them, and then go back to South America to develop those new ideas in the developing markets. After having enhanced my knowledge and network during the years I spent in different countries, my long term plan was to return to Peru and seek a role in the secretary of treasury, central bank or other governmental agency where I could leverage my previous experience and network to benefit the economic development of Peru.
I was first only focused on capital markets roles, such as trading, sales, or structure, either in the equity or fixed-income divisions of investment banks or major asset managers. Until September 2008, I had accomplished what I was seeking from my summer internship at Lehman Brothers by securing a full-time offer for an associate position, after completing the MBA in September 2009. Then, with the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy I did not know what would happen. After that the pendulum starts swinging from positive to negative with every piece of information I was able to get either from the news or from the Lehman Brothers graduate recruitment team. Finally, now there is a possibility to join Nomura, a Japanese firm that bought the fixed-income divisions and other businesses of Lehman Brothers in the fall (See “Nomura Adds More Lehman Businesses & People” if a role that fits my profile is required.
In the meantime, I’m still looking for a post-graduation, full-time job. My job search strategy now has changed in the sense that I am still looking for a finance role, where I could use my previous knowledge, but inside the industry sector. The only way to find such a job is to target multinational companies that have strong treasury divisions where my experience could be useful. I am also more flexible about going back to South America or to any other market that has opportunities. South America has been affected, but it still has enough inertia to keep on growing at low rates. Therefore I have been actively looking for opportunities in countries such as Peru, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina.
Progress is slow. Instability and lack of clarity in the markets are my worst enemies. I’m hoping that things will calm down and that the fundamentals I’ve brushed up on at business school will translate into new opportunities. I also hope that financial institutions will need people to fill new roles within the divisions and products that show upside potential when the market starts to recover.
Well, I am lucky to be an optimistic person, which has helped me ride out the rollercoaster of emotions one goes through during the job hunt. It was really hard to see my dream job crumble when Lehman filed for Chapter 11. It was also hard to be part of several selection processes in different banks and asset managers, where there was only one position available. It was always the same old story. After several rounds of interviews, I would receive a phone call saying that the process has been halted or dropped because of the market’s conditions. But I keep going on, and I know that I will find a job. My only concern is to have the patience to wait for a role where I could keep challenging myself and not just get a job because I have to pay the bills and my debts.