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How to Get Into Wall Street

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If you love numbers, adrenaline and making lightning-fast decisions, then a career on Wall Street might be for you. Many people picture ticker tape, traders yelling, "buy," or "sell," and fortunes being made or lost in minutes or hours. The truth is that a great deal of Wall Street trading now happens on a computer rather than by ticker tape. Many banking and investment firms still have a strong presence in the financial market. Whether you are a working mother, a financial whiz or a numbers cruncher, getting into Wall Street will require you to work long, hard hours to prove yourself and move up the ladder into the position that you want.

Education and Degrees

Many Wall Street firms say that they recruit from a variety of university programs, but most of them focus on hiring students with degrees in finance, business or economics. Positions for students who have a bachelor's degree include investment bankers and traders. Many large banks and firms hire students who already have a graduate degree, specifically a master's in Business Administration, or MBA. This advanced degree represents a significant commitment to business, management or finance, and it shows firms that you have what it takes to stay in the investment field. With an MBA, you are more likely to find a job in research or sales. Some banks and investment companies actively recruit candidates from outside fields, such as medicine or engineering, to do research in specialty areas.

Working Your Way Onto the Street

When it comes to Wall Street, there are no shortcuts to success. Many people start as traders, secretaries or interns and spend years working their way up. Having a network of connections and acquaintances can help you get noticed by the right people at the right time. Even after you've moved to New York City and acquired a position, the hours can be long, and the pressure to conform and succeed is intense. Getting hired by a Wall Street firm is an attainable goal if you work at it. Internships in particular are a great way to get your foot in the door. The best time to have an internship is the summer after your junior year. If this internship goes well, it can lead to a job offer once you graduate. Talk with your contacts and the career center at your university to find out the best way to secure an internship. Remember that even an unpaid internship gets you in front of decision-makers in a firm, and a successful internship can give you an opportunity to show your skills and make an impression.

Jobs on Wall Street

A wide variety of jobs are connected to the energy of Wall Street. Traders, investment bankers, researchers, fund managers and portfolio managers all work with Wall Street. Investment bankers are probably the best-known of these jobs. These bankers help secure funding for new companies, deal with mergers, and generally help businesses manage their investments. An entry-level investment banker can make around $75,000, and salaries increase with successful business deals.

Mutual fund managers help trade and manage investments for individual funds and larger investments. These are the people who are buying and selling on Wall Street, and this is where fortunes are made and lost. Most mutual fund managers are paid a combination of a salary and a performance bonus, and their annual incomes start at about $155,000 and go up from there. However, this job is only for those who can handle the stress of knowing they are making and losing money for other people.