Magazine

Big Execs on Campus


College business clubs are helping undergraduates hone their financial skills and make contacts for future careers

Exclusive business clubs at colleges throughout the U.S. are becoming the golden ticket for go-getting students chasing plum jobs in investment banking, hedge funds, and private equity. Here are some of the most impressive clubs that students are creating or expanding to compete with their rivals at undergraduate business schools.

COLUMBIA

Women's Business Society

Launched: 2004

Aim: Connect women in the C-Suite with women who want to get there.

Dress code: Jeans, boots, and skirt suits.

Getting in: Any woman can attend events. Some men show up, too.

Star guest: Amy Butte, chief financial officer, Man Financial (MN), former chief financial officer, NYSE (NYX)

Highlight of the year: Sponsors such as Fidelity, Goldman Sachs (GS), and Morgan Stanley (MS) pony up nearly $30,000 for the annual meeting. Biggest donors get to meet students at the "dessert social" networking event.

Advice to recruiters: "Financial firms are only allowed to do one event on campus per semester, so they have to work through students groups if they want to be more aggressive" (Linda Liu, 2007-08 vice-president for external affairs).

HARVARD

Veritas Financial Group

Launched: April, 2007

Aim: Teach students finance skills.

Dress code: Business casual, occasional Harvard sweatshirt.

Getting in the door: Candidates submit a résumé and an application.

Star guest: Real estate mogul and Harvard Business School professor Arthur Segel.

Big bucks: Received $15,000 from JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Credit Suisse (CSN), and Goldman Sachs.

The big sell: "We are providing students with tools that they wouldn't otherwise get at Harvard" (Ryan Williams, founder).

PRINCETON

Business Today

Launched: Founded in 1968.

Aim: Produce a glossy finance magazine and host conferences with business bigwigs.

Attire: Blazers and collared shirts.

Getting in: To vet the 150 applicants for the 50 open club spots, the board grills students during two rounds of interviews. Last year, 1,000 students across the globe vied for 150 spots at the annual conference.

Star guests: Aetna (AET) President Mark Bertolini, Comcast (CMCSA) President Steve Burke.

Corporate connections: Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers (LEH), and Bear Stearns (BSC) sponsor panels in exchange for meeting students.

Quote: "We can fill a room with 60 students passionate about finance. The big investment firms salivate at the idea of sponsoring our events" (Bryan Gartner, financial director).

STANFORD

Consulting

Launched: 1992 (first corporate clients in 1996).

Aim: Advise companies on how to market to college kids.

Attire: Flip-flops and polo shirts.

Getting in: Hard; only 20% make it.

Corporate clients: Include giants such as Microsoft (MSFT), Siemens (SI), and IBM (IBM). Company fees fund operational costs as well as club tote bags.

Lesson learned: "At the end, we are doing real client presentations and have to think about, 'So what's the key takeaway?'" (Connie Yu, recruiting director).

TUFTS

Tufts Financial Group

Launched: 2005; Alpha fund launched in 2008.

Aim: Generate big returns by investing $30,000 donated by a Tufts alum.

Attire: Suits for special occasions.

Getting in: Anyone can join, but those who play hooky don't get access to the club's investing research.

Star guest: Ronald Logue, CEO of State Street (STT).

The big sell: "We are the most popular club on campus. We have the highest number of people who regularly attend meetings" (President Lindsey Tannenbaum).

YALE

Globalfund

Launched: September, 2006.

Aim: Pool student earnings, beat the market.

Dress Code: Collared shirts.

Getting in the door: Invitation only. Applicants must submit investment ideas, and one in four is selected.

Star guest: Lee Ainslie III, founder and CEO Maverick Capital

Best trip: The group chatted with in his Omaha office last year.

Boast: "Our investment analysis is orders of magnitude more rigorous than other groups'" (Phil Uhde, founder).

McConnon is a staff editor for BusinessWeek in New York. Silver-Greenberg is a reporter for BusinessWeek.com.

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